Second District County Commissioner Mike Schatz

High costs associated with a remodeling project are presenting county commissioners with a problem.

The county is facing a shortfall of about $92,000 to remodel the former county prosecutor’s office into the health department, said Second District County Commissioner Mike Schatz.

Last month, a construction estimate for the project came in at $554,000, which is higher than the $500,000 that the county has budgeted for the project.

The $500,000 budget for the project must also cover the $38,000 for architecture and engineering services provided by Cochran Engineering of Union, Schatz noted.

Schatz said he is “the point man” on the commission for the project. The county plans to save about $5,500 by doing the construction oversight for the project in-house, he said.

Just because the construction estimate from Cochran Engineering came in high does not mean that the county cannot get the project done within budget, Schatz said.

He said there is a chance that a contractor eager for work will do the project within the county’s budget.

If not, Schatz said some parts of the project could be scaled back, such as cosmetic improvements like painting the building exterior.

Another example of something that could possibly be cut is a $10,000 awning, he said. And instead of surfacing handicapped parking spaces with concrete, asphalt could be used instead, Schatz said.

While all of those are nice perks, they are not necessities, Schatz said.

He said he expects county officials to sit down with Cochran Engineering soon to continue to look at the design.

Hopefully, the project can go out for bid in May with construction beginning in June, Schatz said. It should take about four to five months to finish the project, he said.

County officials say a new health department is needed because the current one is cramped.

The county has been spending money related to the project since at least 2009 when $1,040 was paid to Cochran Engineering for a structural inspection.

And in 2011, the county paid Cochran $2,600 for an asbestos and lead paint survey on the building.

And $6,243 was spent with various vendors in 2012 for services such as insulation removal to prep the building for the project.