Whitesburg KY

Rec center needs work to cut energy costs, court is told

Members of the Letcher County Fiscal Court were surprised to learn recently that the three-year-old Letcher County Recreation Center is among the county-owned buildings where changes need to be made to improve energy efficiency.

Mark Saunier of Comfort & Process Solutions (CPS) presented the court with an energy audit of county buildings during a recent meeting. Saunier told the court that it would be possible for the county to save at least $43,705 annually by replacing older equipment such as air conditioning and lighting. Saunier said that among the buildings his engineers had surveyed, the county courthouse and recreation center had among the highest potential savings.

District Two Magistrate Terry Adams said the rec center is a new building and should be one of the most energy efficient buildings in the county, considering that the center has a geo-thermal heating and cooling system. However, Saunier replied that it is possible that the electrical and mechanical subcontractors for the center did not properly commission the building when they completed their work. Saunier explained that when a building is commissioned, it means that the contractor makes a final check of every system to make sure it is operating to its optimal level of efficiency. He said that in the past three years, both state and county governments have begun to hire separate contractors to perform commissioning, because contractors haven’t been doing the inspections properly.

“Are you saying our contractors lied it to us?” asked District Five Magistrate Wayne Fleming

“It wasn’t done correctly,” replied Saunier.

Saunier said the mechanical and electric contractor should have been responsible for the commissioning and that Codell Construction, the general contractor for the center, would probably want to get in touch with them and ask for an explanation. He added that because of the efficiency of the geothermal system, there are many opportunities to save energy costs.

“The mechanical and electrical contractor should have done the commissioning,” said Saunier, adding that he will be happy to meet with the contractor.

Letcher County Judge/Executive Jim Ward told the court during the recent special meeting that he would speak to Codell Construction officials and ask them to contact the contractor to see why the commissioning wasn’t done properly in the first place.

“We shouldn’t have to get Codell to do the job they should have already done,” said Magistrate Adams, adding that most of the systems in the recreation center should still be under warranty as well.

Saunier told the court that if it would allow Comfort & Process Solutions to proceed and do a more extensive audit, which will be done at no expense to the court, then it would have better data to use when speaking to Codell and the subcontractor.

The court voted unanimously to allow CPS to proceed.

Ward told The Mountain Eagle he will wait until he has the complete audit from CPS before he proceeds with conversations with Codell and the subcontractor. Ward said he wanted to wait so he will know exactly which systems need upgrades and “we know exactly what want to talk about.”

The special meeting was called to accept the following tax rates for the county taxing districts:

• Letcher County, real property, 12.10 cents per $100.00; personal property, 12.10 cents per $100.00; motor vehicles and water craft, 13.7 cents per $100.00.

• Letcher County Soil Conservation District, real property, 1.40 cents per $100.00.

• Letcher County Board of Health, 8.0 cents per $100.00 on real property, personal property, and motor vehicles and water craft.

• Letcher County Extension Office, real property, 6.6 cents per $100.00; personal property, 7.4 cents per $100.00; motor vehicles and water craft, 3.0 cents per $100.00.

• Jenkins Independent Schools, real property, 77.7 cents per $100.00; personal property, 77.7 cents per $100.00, motor vehicles and water craft, 69.0 cents per $100.00.

• Letcher County Public Schools, real property, 56.9 cents per $100.00; personal property, 56.9 cents per $100.00; motor vehicles and water craft, 49.6 cents per $100.00.

Also at the meeting, Whitesburg accountant Dennis Wayne Fleming presented the final 2013 Tax Settlement from the Letcher County Sheriffs’ Department. The total balance of tax credits was $7,955,931, which Fleming said represents a collection rate of 96 percent.

The court went into executive session to consider potential litigation involving county right of way on newly developed commercial property in Isom. When members emerged, Letcher County Attorney Jamie Hatton reported that a road and a water pipeline that belong to the county have been covered over with the county being denied access to its right of way, which means that the water lines cannot be accessed.

The court voted unanimously to proceed with litigation against a Tennessee realty company to regain access to the right of way.

While voting to pay bills, outgoing District Three Magistrate Codell Gibson questioned fees paid to judges who judged bands at the Mountain Heritage Festival. Gibson said he thought it was “pathetic” that the judges had to be paid and questioned why they couldn’t volunteer a few minutes of their time for the festival.

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