CLAY COUNTY — A majority of county commissioners pushed forward on the new Annex building by hiring a project manager in a closed-door meeting Tuesday, Nov. 26.
The executive session was held under the vague reasoning of “contractual” after a specially called commission open session left the public and presiding commissioner questioning why an executive meeting was rushed to be held after no action was taken in open session and after no staff member provided a reason as to why the meeting was necessary or explained who called the meeting. A meeting notice was posted within minutes of the required 24 hours under the state Sunshine Law for public meetings.
In that executive meeting, Eastern Commissioner Luann Ridgeway and Western Commissioner Gene Owen outvoted Presiding Commissioner Jerry Nolte to hire Project Advocates, LLC. Of Omaha, Nebraska to oversee construction of a new Annex.
“A competitive selection process was initiated to choose a project manager that is qualified to assist the county in managing the planning, development, design and construction of the Annex in a timely and economical manner,” states a county press release issued after 4 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 27. “The selected project manager will report directly to the county commission and act as the county’s representative on the project.”
Details including how the firm was selected, how many other firms were considered and the cost of the contract have yet to be released.
The county Annex facility has been mired in controversy since discussions of the project and land deal were considered earlier this year. Dozens of residents voiced opposition to the project, saying the county doesn't need a new Annex, that construction of a new facility is a waste of taxpayer dollars and that current Annex location, 1901 NE 48th St. in Kansas City, could be remodeled and updated for the county's growing needs.
This summer, County Auditor Victor Hurlbert told commissioners he believed the county's contract to buy the land for the new facility at the intersection of Missouri Highway 152 and North Brighton Avenue in Kansas City was nonbinding as his office didn't certify the associated expenditures. After learning of Hurlbert’s concerns and commission action to still go ahead with the land deal, County Treasurer Bob Nance said his office would not release payment disbursements without the auditor’s certification.
It is unclear if payments still have yet to be dispersed.
More details on the Annex project will be released as they become available.