Ques­tions arise over hir­ing prop­erty man­age­ment firm for new town hall

Sackville Tribune - - NEWS - BY KATIE TOWER STAFF RE­PORTER

The con­struc­tion phase is com­plete and the doors are now open to Sackville’s brand new $13-mil­lion state-of-the-art mu­nic­i­pal build­ing.

But with the lat­est in ad­vanced, en­er­gy­ef­fi­cient sys­tems and mod­ern tech­nol­ogy, how can the town en­sure the fa­cil­ity is be­ing main­tained and op­er­ated to its fullest?

That ques­tion is one that’s up for de­bate amongst town coun­cil, who learned re­cently the town may need to dole out some more money to see that those com­po­nents are taken care of prop­erly.

An­drew Amos, se­nior en­gi­neer­ing con­sul­tant on the new town hall and emer­gency ser­vices build­ing project, said he thinks it would be a good idea for the town to hire a prop­erty man­age­ment firm to look af­ter the sys­tems in the build­ing.

“This would en­sure ev­ery­thing

is tested prop­erly and run­ning prop­erly,” said Amos.

Amos said he has ap­proached three firms in the Mar­itimes about man­ag­ing Sackville’s new fa­cil­ity and re­ceived a re­sponse back from one - The Ash­ford Group.

If coun­cil ap­proved the rec­om­men­da­tion, the firm would be hired on a two-year term.

A prop­erty man­age­ment firm would over­see all the ser­vice con­tracts, deal with the dayto-day war­ranty is­sues, put in place a pre­ven­ta­tive main­te­nance check­list, and of­fer qual­ity as­sur­ance.

Ba­si­cally, they would help tran­si­tion the build­ing from the com­mis­sion­ing phase to the op­er­a­tional phase, he said.

“I wouldn’t be rec­om­mend­ing this if I didn’t be­lieve it was ben­e­fi­cial and value-added,” he said.

Amos noted the firm would be able to pro­vide ex­per­tise in “green” house­keep­ing as well as with some of the ad­vanced sys­tems in the build­ing.

“This would be out­side of the stan­dard ex­per­tise your town staff has,” he said.

But sev­eral coun­cil­lors were taken aback by the rec­om­men­da­tion to hire an out­side firm to man­age the build­ing, say­ing they weren’t aware of the need for ad­di­tional ex­per­tise.

“I’m pretty dis­turbed by this,” said Coun. Mar­garet Tusz-king.

“For us to hear now that we should hire some­one to man­age our build­ing, at an ex­or­bi­tant price, is shock­ing.”

Tusz-king said she was un­der the im­pres­sion that the town would be able to op­er­ate the sys­tems with its own staff, not spend “tens of thou­sands of dol­lars” for on­go­ing op­er­at­ing costs.

She said she’s up­set that this rec­om­men­da­tion is com­ing in so un­ex­pect­edly at the last minute.

Coun. Mike Tower also said he was “blown away” by the sug­ges­tion that our new town build­ing can’t be man­aged by our own peo­ple.

“I have a big-time prob­lem with this.”

But other mem­bers of coun­cil said they un­der­stand the need to have ex­pe­ri­enced and ca­pa­ble peo­ple in place to ad­dress any is­sues that may crop up.

“We need to have some­one in place who has an un­der­stand­ing of the sys­tems,” said Coun. Vir­gil Ham­mock, “par­tic­u­larly when it comes to war­ranty and start-up is­sues.”

Ham­mock said he doesn’t want to see a re­peat of what hap­pened at the civic cen­tre when it opened, with a num­ber of de­fi­cien­cies ham­per­ing op­er­a­tions of the fa­cil­ity.

“We may very well be sorry in the end if we don’t do this.”

Coun. Joyce O’neil said she would also like to see some­one in place who has the ex­per­tise and knowl­edge to run the sys­tems prop­erly.

“The build­ing is new and ev­ery­thing down there is new . . .” she said. Mayor Pat Estabrooks agreed. “I think we need to have some­one there that’s knowl­edge­able and with the right ex­per­tise to keep things run­ning smoothly.”

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