Covington City Council wary about gazebo's $55K budget

COVINGTON — Mayor Ronnie Johnston’s push in the next phase to build a gazebo in the Square Park was tabled because some council members were wary of the costs presented.

In a work session Monday, Johnston asked the council to add the gazebo price discussion to the regular meeting’s agenda. But after looking at the costs analysis, Councilman Chris Smith said he wanted to see the gazebo staked out before he approved the project’s budget.

To build the gazebo measuring 24-feet wide and about 22-feet high, the total cost would be $55,000, according to Planning Director Randy Vinson.

Since the project is broken down by different costs, the city decided not to bid it out. City Manager Leigh Anne Knight said the city isn’t required to bid out a project if it’s under $20,000.

The following prices are estimated costs to build the gazebo:

• Timber milling: $2,000

• Timber framing: $19,500

• Concrete footings: $3,500

• Granite and pavers: $15,000

• Slate roofing materials and labor: $5,500

• Electrical and sound materials and labor: $3,500

• Staining materials and labor: $3,000

• Miscellaneous/general conditions/utilities: $1,000

• Contingency: $2,000

Smith said he wasn’t necessarily worried about the size of the gazebo, but instead the total price.

“I’d like to see visually how much green space it would take up on the Square. I’ve been on board with building this since day one, until I saw the price,” Smith said. “If I’m going to spend $55,000 on a gazebo, I want to make sure we’re doing the right thing. It’s about spending the money appropriately. A gazebo is a great idea, but I think this price is too much.”

The funding for the project would come out of the parks and cemetery department’s budget. The city would pay about $41,000 since Main Street Covington would contribute about $14,000 to the project.

Smith asked if prices could be compared. Vinson said he didn’t bring comparable costs to the council because there’s only one specialist out of Oxford who has worked with the Square pavers previously and one experienced timber framing business in the area.

Council members Hawnethia Williams and Janet Goodman were ready to move the decision to the agenda and approve the $55,000 budget, noting they “trusted the prices” Vinson presented.

“Looking at stakes won’t change anything. I trust Randy’s ability and we’re already saving money by having him as the general contractor,” Goodman said. “It doesn’t exceed the $20,000 in order to put it out to bid. If we did that, it would take more than two months before construction would even start.”

Johnston was concerned that the gazebo’s budget wouldn’t pass unanimously and asked the council to consider moving the decision to a later date.