Con­sul­tant to be hired to eval­u­ate pub­lic works

County could hire civil en­gi­neer by end of week

The Covington News - - Front Page - By Gabriel Khouli gkhouli@cov­news.com

Newton County is plan­ning to hire an en­gi­neer­ing con­sult­ing firm to eval­u­ate the struc­ture and ef­fi­ciency of the county’s pub­lic works depart­ment and as­sist in im­ple­ment­ing any changes.

The Newton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers is ex­pected to vote on a $31,541 con­tract with the en­gi­neer­ing firm More­land Al­to­belli As­so­ci­ates at its Jan. 18 meet­ing.

The pub­lic works and wa­ter re­sources de­part­ments were con­sol­i­dated to in­crease ef­fi­ciency fol­low­ing bud­get cuts the county made in July.

Mor­gan said Tues­day that the county’s pub­lic works em­ploy­ees are some­times con­fused by the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion’s pro­cesses and ter­mi­nol­ogy. For in­stance, the state grades road dif­fer­ently from coun­ties, and the two are not al­ways on the same page.

The con­tract with More­land Al­to­belli calls for two en­gi­neers to spend 512 hours with the county dur­ing the next six months, study­ing the depart­ment’s ef­fi­ciency, man­power and equip­ment.

The en­gi­neers will also help the county make an as­sess­ment of its pave­ment con­di­tions, drainage struc­tures, pave­ment mark­ing, sig­nage, guardrails and other road­way con­di­tions.

Mor­gan said cre­at­ing a list of all the county’s roads, in­clud­ing their con­di­tion and all re­pair work done to them, will al­low the county to bet­ter sched­ule re­pairs and iden­tify trends. For ex­am­ple, if a road is con­tin­u­ally de­vel­op­ing pot­holes, there may

be an un­der­ly­ing prob­lem to the foun­da­tion.

The county will be charged $12,201 for the 512 hours of work. The re­main­der of the con­tract fee, $19,340, in­cludes a 135 per­cent over­head charge and a 10 per­cent fixed fee. At the board of com­mis­sion­ers Jan. 4 meet­ing, Com­mis­sioner Mort Ewing said the over­head cost seemed high and asked whether that was a nor­mal rate. Mor­gan said Tues­day that the rate is the same one the com­pany has charged since the board first ap­proved a pay­ment rate con­tract with More- land Al­to­belli in 2006.

Also Tues­day, Mor­gan said that the county could hire a civil en­gi­neer to run the com­bined depart­ment as early as this week. The new depart­ment head would be ex­pected to find so­lu­tions to in­ter­nal en­gi­neer­ing prob­lems and work with out­side con­sult­ing firms, such as More­land Al­to­belli.

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