Unions voice concerns over courthouse roof job
PDT Staff Writer
Local unions have expressed their concerns over the project to replace the roof on the county courthouse. Their concerns include the fact that project was not put out to bid and the quality of the work.
Earlier this week, the Scioto County Commissioners met in special session and passed a resolution authorizing the expenditure of $99,990 for the replacement of the roof on the courthouse.
The contract to do the work was awarded to Five Star Commercial Roofing, headquartered out of Hartford City, Ind.
“I’m concerned they are going to get a second-class roof on a project that needs to have a first-class roof,” said Fred Gee, Market Development Representative for the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers of Washington D.C. “I don’t know what kind of background check they (the commissioners) did on the company, but I found material that shows several OHSA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) violations in a half an hour on the Internet.”
Mark Johnson, Assistant to the Business Manager of the Tri-State Building and Construction Trades Council voiced similar concerns.
“If this was on some warehouse or a secondary building that we (Scioto County) needed a quick roof on, maybe this system would be fine,” Johnson said. “But the Scioto County Courthouse is the crown jewel of the county and deserves a first class roof. If it’s been leaking for so long why do we wait until the last minute and declare it an emergency so not to put it out to public bid?”
Under Ohio law, if a project is declared an emergency and costs less than $100,000 it does not have to go out for public bid.
Johnson said no engineer or architect was consulted on the project.
“No engineer or architect looked at the roof or anything. We’re just going to come in here and do a quick job in two weeks and get out of here and hope it (the roof) lasts for 20 years. I don’t know if it will last 20 years or not. I’ve been told by others it may last two years and you’ll be chasing leaks for the next 18 years,” Johnson said.
Johnson and Gee said they are hoping the commissioners will reconsider the job.
“An engineer should have the stamp of approval on a project like this. There should be checks and balances on the system, not just roll the dice with $100,000 of tax payer money and hope that it’s going to be OK,” Johnson said.
Mike Crabtree, Chairman of the Scioto County Commissioners said the county had no choice but to treat this project as an emergency.
“Anything that’s an emergency you can do without going through the bid process. The roof obviously is an emergency so, we had to have three estimates and something had to be less than $100,000 and we had a bid less than $100,000. The only other option we had was to maybe, put tarps over the courthouse roof,” Crabtree said. “We have done the very best we could with the options we had available.”
Crabtree said this measure was taken so the county could get a roof that will last 20 years and stop the leaks.
He said Five Star Commercial Roofing has calling him on and off for the last year about the possibility of getting the job.
“I’m not going to feud with the unions about this, there is nothing here for them to argue about. If there is any issue with OHSA, the man doing the work will have to deal with that. He’s going to have to deal with his own safety issues. We made it clear to him we wanted them to use prevailing wage labor,” Crabtree said. “Under the circumstances and with the price we got, this was the only option we had.”
Crabtree said Five Star Commercial Roofing came in with a bid of $175,000, three years ago.
“I invited them to come look at the roof and see what they can do,” Crabtree said. “They came down and we (Crabtree and Commissioner Doug Coleman) were at an ethics conference so, Skip (Riffe, Commissioner) met with those folks. They came back with a bid that was a little bit over a $100,000.”
He said they called to see what the county was going to do.
“I explained to him that we were going to have to go through the bidding process for anything over $100,000 and he then said we might be able to do a little bit better than that, but it had to be cleared with the owner of the company.”
Crabtree said Five Star Commercial Roofing then came back with a bid of less than $100,000, if they could get a commitment from the county before the end of February.
“We had zero options. Otherwise we would have had to have gone through a bidding process and pay $180,000 or $150,000 to get the roof put on there and do what we had to do. Along with that, there would have been a lot of engineering work that needed to be done and there was no money to do that,” Crabtree said.
He said the only other option the county had was to let the roof leak for another year or two while they saved up the money.
“I felt like we are getting the best bang for our buck and all three commissioners were in favor of doing this. We worked hard to get something worked out were we could do this project with the money we had and to get it done in a timely manner,” Crabtree said. “As far as I’m concerned this is not a topic for debate and I’m not going to get into any war of words with the unions over this. I know they (unions) have their opinions, but the reality is that Scioto County is not loaded with money right now.”
He said crews from Five Star Commercial Roofing are expected to get started on the project on Monday.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org
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