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End in sight for cost overruns on Haywood courthouse

As renovation of Haywood County’s historic courthouse drags on, the county continues to tack on tens of thousands of dollars in additional costs over and beyond the project budget.

Last month, county commissioners approved an additional $45,000 in rent and phone lines for the temporary building housing county offices. That brings the total cost overruns to $262,923.

Included in that figure are $78,365 in consulting costs and $143,558 in attorney fees, both stemming from the county’s firing of the project’s original contracting firm and subsequent litigation.

The renovation of the courthouse is now 65 percent complete, and county officials think they’ll be able to stay within budget until the project is completed in April, said County Manager David Cotton.

The project was supposed to have been finished in June 2008, but stalled when the county fired KMD Construction, the contracting firm overseeing the renovations, on May 5. At the time, the project was behind schedule and the county wasn’t happy with the work KMD had done.

Work on the courthouse didn’t resume for several months until August while the county hashed out the details of finding a new contractor.

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The search for a new firm fell on the shoulders of the bonding company the county used to insure the project. Though the bonding company hired another firm — Nicholson Professional Consulting — to provide direct supervision for the project, the labor is still being provided through KMD Construction. County commissioners approved the rehiring of KMD in a 4-1 vote.

Meanwhile, the county has been embroiled in a series of litigations against KMD, accusing the company of shoddy work and an inability to follow a timeline that caused the project to fall months behind schedule.

When finished, the courthouse will house various county services, including Veteran’s Affairs, Register of Deeds, Land Records, Geographical Information Systems, Tax Administration, Human Resources, Information Technology, Finance, and County Administration, according to Cotton.

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