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'Sweetheart' deal for county's homeless hounds

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Thursday, Feb. 14, turned into a sweetheart of a day for Bandera County's homeless animals when commissioners approved another step in the construction of a new animal control facility.
Kenneth Burns of Burns Architecture, LLC, offered the court a completed set of drawings that included specifications and an overview of plans. He asked the court to allow him to go out for requests for proposals from companies for actual construction of the facility. Commissioners approved his request unanimously.
The site will include a septic system that the contractor will be required to complete to state regulations. A system utilizing treated "gray water" for irrigation, as suggested by a citizen, might prove too expensive an option, said the court.
According to Precinct 2 Commissioner Bobby Harris, cost-cutting changes have already been made to the 5,600 square foot floor plan. "I've met with Kenny Burns and the judge to discuss relentless cost savings to benefit the county," Harris said. "The county is happy with the changes and there will be enough time to make further adjustments that will continue to save money." As an example, rather than going to the ceiling the kennels will be 6-feet, 8-inches high.
By law, however, the contractor must supply the metal building that will eventually house the kennels, cattery, offices and medical area, Burns said. Previously, Harris had volunteered to purchase the building to save money. "Never confuse the local government code with commonsense," commented Judge Richard Evans. However, Evans noted that all kennels within the facility would not necessarily have to be finished at this time.
When asked about the current need for a completed facility, Harris said, "We could do an expansion in four or five years or the kennels could fill up the first day." Advocating the purchase of the largest building possible, he said, "The cost of steel or concrete is never going down."
Burns added, "It could go flat for awhile, but it will always go back up.
He also told the court that a limited set of specifications would be issued as part of the bidding document. "If the contractor releases specs to subcontractors, they're on the hook for that," Burns said. He added, "The competitive sealed proposals will require a 5 percent bid bond or a cashier's check equivalent of 5 percent of the project." The facility has a $200,000 budget
However, the selection criteria will not be based solely on the lowest bid, Burns said. When the percentage shuffling was completed, price was allocated 50 percent of the selection process; past experience working on similar projects, 5 percent; company location, 10 percent; previous relationship with county, 10 percent; scheduling conflicts, 5 percent; and a willingness to work on cost-cutting measures, 20 percent.
Along with price, Evans considered a contractor's willing to cooperate with the county regarding further cost-cutting measures to be of paramount importance in the process.
Enlisting the aid of inmate work crews would also help keep costs down. "The contractor must be willing to work with us to save money," Burns said. "Until we get the cost where the court is comfortable, we won't award the contract."
A construction expert, Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Wilkerson will also work with Harris on the animal control facility. Both commissioners assured Burns, "We'll be with you every step of the way."
"Whether you want it or not," Evans quipped.