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Library board approves completion of HVAC replacement
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The Newton County Library System’s Board of Trustees has agreed to move forward with the second and final phase of the replacement of the Covington branch’s HVAC system.

The board met Thursday and unanimously approved the work to begin with a state contractor, EZIQ, for $792,904.12. The work includes project management. The work is being paid for by refinancing of bonds on the Newton County Administration Building.

Before the vote on the board’s first action item of the meeting, Bill Perugino, who made the motion to proceed to phase two, addressed public outcry against the type of system being installed and the bidding process to procure it.

“There’s a misconception in the role this board played in selecting the contractors and the design of the project,” he said. “And I want to emphasize that the board took precaution in going to the state of Georgia to avail ourselves of the EZIQC program to make sure the process was in compliance of all regulations and good practices.”

The board, which used its own reserve funds, along with $100,000 in state grants, paid for the first phase of the project and already has the equipment.

The payments for the second phase, which will come from the county, must be paid as progress payments, 30 days after billed. The library board’s auditor recommended that the funds transfer from the county to the board’s accounts, and then the board would pay the contractor.

That brought some discussion among board members Thursday about getting the money from the county in a timely manner.

Board members expressed some concern about the length of time it took to get the funding to fix an HVAC unit in 2013. Library Board of Trustees Director Dr. Steve Whatley said part of the problems with the timeline could stem from the Board of Commissioners inexperience with this kind of project. 

“This is the first one where they had to deal with it, but didn’t really have to deal with it because of us,” Whatley said referring to the library board being the decision-making entity.

Perugino, who has construction experience, told the board that the type of contract, requiring payments after each step of the project is completed, is traditional for construction projects, and that there are no penalties if the payments aren’t made each month.