Webster Co. supervisors table clock tower bid approval

Webster County Supervisors tabled a single bid Tuesday that came in over budget for the clock tower and roof restoration at the county courthouse.

Supervisors are scheduled to discuss the bid further at another meeting at 8 a.m. Thursday.

Neumann Brothers Inc., of Des Moines, submitted a project base bid Friday for $6.19 million. One alternate option in the bid could deduct $30,000, should supervisors want to sacrifice the copper gutters.

Supervisors said Tuesday that the bid was about $1.5 million more than they were expecting, according to original estimates from county engineers.

“We could very well sign this contract, that’s one option,” said Supervisor Nick Carlson. “We’re going to have a discussion Thursday to see how to move forward.”

Carlson said that other options previously discussed were likely not on the table at this point. The other three options included taking no action on repairs, removing the clock tower and repairing the skylight for an estimated cost of $2.8 million, or replacing the clock tower with a completely new skin at an estimate of $10 million. Supervisors previously solicited and received feedback through public input sessions.

Neumann Brothers Inc., which Carlson said is reputable, has been involved with projects on the Iowa State Capitol building in Des Moines.

“We just need to make sure we’re crossing our T’s and dotting our I’s at this point,” he said.

If supervisors ultimately approve the bid as it stands, they would potentially need to hold another public hearing to increase the general obligation bond amount that the county planned to use for financing.

Other potential streams of income to help supplement funding of the project could come from revenue the county already receives from the local option sales tax, according to county Auditor Doreen Pliner.

The sheathing’s extensive weathering over 118 years contributed to the need for action. The project has been a top priority for supervisors in long-term planning, with hopes to have renovations completed by the end of this year.

A key part of the restoration would include installation of a plastic membrane to act as a water barrier between the copper and wood, leaving most levels of the tower dry. The top level of the tower is open to the air, so that the bell can ring. The water barrier will be designed so that water can flow back outside, preventing rotting of the wooden structure underneath.


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