County ousts contractor
for fire station

CONYERS - Rockdale County released the contractor hired to build the second of two sales tax-funded fire stations citing excessive change orders.

County officials said they are moving to negotiate with a new contractor after the release of Conyers-based J. Alan Abbott Construction and payment of $32,376 for work done and fees.

Michael Smith, general manager of Rockdale County's Office of Capital and Community Improvements, said the county became concerned over add-on costs, called change orders, Abbott was submitting.

"This is a design/build contract, which means they were supposed to put everything in," Smith told the Board of Commissioners last week. "Following the permitting process it became apparent there were some things they didn't have."

Smith said the change orders involved about 20 items that included sidewalks, stormwater drainage, parking and landscaping.

Abbott won the bidding process to construct the fire station, located on Walker Road, with a low bid of $996,911.

Smith said from the outset he and other county staffers were concerned by Abbott's low bid. After negotiations, the bid was revised to $1.63 million.

The money paid to Abbott was for work done up to the point of releasing them from the contract, mostly engineering and design, Smith said.

The delay could prove to be a benefit for the county because it may not have the funding to staff the new station. The Board of Commissioners is considering revising the 2009 budget to cover a budget gap of $4 million due to a shortfall in tax revenue.

The Walker Road fire station is one of two being built as part of Rockdale County's $99 million special purpose local option sales tax plan, or SPLOST. The fire stations had an allotment of $2.46 million for construction and equipment.

The other SPLOST-funded fire station is located on Hurst Road, near the intersection of McDaniel Mill and Klondike roads. The fire station was completed in August for $1.09 million. The county hired 12 new fire fighters to staff the Hurst Road fire station last year. Staffing for the Walker Road fire station was included in the 2009 budget.

Jay Jones can be reached at jay.jones@rockdalecitizen.com