Questions arise over hiring property management firm for new town hall
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.”