Cobb Co. Approves Extra Courthouse Funds

MARIETTA, Ga. — Cobb County Commissioners recently approved additional funds for the installation of security equipment in the county’s new $63 billion Superior Court building.

Turner Construction built the facility, which opened to the public in January, for $57 million.

The extra $35,942 in security costs is being added onto a $1.7 million contract with Black Creek Integrated Systems Corp. that was approved in July 2009. Last month, commissioners approved $2,255 more for a $448,257 contract to install audio/video equipment in each courtroom.

“We closed out the second contract with Black Creek for $1.7 million, which is part of the overall $63 million budget, and we had ad-on of $35 million, less than 2 percent,” said Virgil Moon, the county’s support services director, who is overseeing the project. “This is one of the most secure courthouses ever built so it is not a concern.”

Some commissioners were still reticent to approve the additional security costs lest the project burn through its allocated funds.

“It is extremely important from the standpoint that we are making sure that everything is delivered as promised under the conditions as were approved,” said County Commissioner Helen Goreham.

But Moon said the project is not at risk of surpassing its budget.

“We hope to have all the contracts in by the end of month and are hoping to return at least a half million to the sales tax fund,” he said.

The courthouse is being paid for with funds from a 1 percent special sales tax approved by voters in 2005. The courthouse was completed $6 million under budget.

“We negotiated very tough up front to keep the price down,” Moon said. “The project started at $69 million.”

To keep costs down, the county used its own project manager and separated some of the work into individual contracts it handled itself in lieu of going through an outside contractor. Doing so saved the county about 10 percent, or $500,000, on the project, Moon said.

Structural tests, environmental certification, furniture and security and audio equipment were budgeted for $5.5 million. The county spent $2 million buying furniture for the courthouse through a state purchasing department, $256,000 for the structural tests and $19,000 for environmental design costs, Moon said.