Griggs County will pay for portion of unfinished project
Griggs County has agreed to pay a total of about $250,000 of more than $850,000 a Grand Forks contractor claims is owed for construction work on the nearly-completed Griggs County Courthouse and Emergency Operations Center. The county received a ...
Griggs County has agreed to pay a total of about $250,000 of more than $850,000 a Grand Forks contractor claims is owed for construction work on the nearly-completed Griggs County Courthouse and Emergency Operations Center.
The county received a payment of $136,630 Tuesday, according to County Treasurer Connie Eslinger, from the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services, which is administering a $1 million federal grant for the EOC portion of the $3.5 million building in Cooperstown, N.D.
The Griggs County Commission approved last week the payment of about $96,600 to Construction Engineers, according to Eslinger.
No work has been done on the project, estimated to be 90 to 95 percent completed, since May, when the general contractor walked off the job site in a dispute over payments for work already completed.
The County Commission last month approved payment of about $159,200 to the contractor.
In August, Construction Engineers filed a lien totaling more than $856,000, plus interest, against the county and the Griggs County Building Authority.
The building, located adjacent to the old courthouse, remains vacant. The old courthouse, built in 1883-84, has been plagued in recent years by mold, roof and other physical issues.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building is considered North Dakota’s oldest courthouse still in its original use.
Two projects, one contract
The Griggs County project is unique in that it involves two separate projects rolled into one contract, with each controlled by a different group. That’s the result of a recall election in October 2013 in which all five county commissioners were defeated.
The recall was prompted by the former County Commission’s decision earlier in 2013 to proceed with building a new courthouse and adjacent EOC, despite voters’ rejection of three separate bond issues to finance different versions of the project.
The commissioners then formed a private, non-profit organization to issue $2.2 million in bonds to pay for it over 20 years, as well as to oversee the construction project.
Normally, that poses no problems because the County Commission and the Building Authority are usually comprised of the same people. But the recall changed that.
The original federal Department of Homeland Security EOC grant was awarded in January 2012.
However, money cannot be released until NDDES receives proper documentation that federal funds are being used only to reimburse the county for money spent on the EOC, not for the courthouse portion of the project.
Sheriff Robert Hook, who serves as construction project manager for the county building authority, is continuing to work with NDDES to comply with grant regulations, according to Eslinger.
The county has until September 2015 to comply with those regulations, or lose the federal funding.