Commissioners will get convention center updates in Thursday meeting

By Tony Wittkowski | City Reporter | The Times Herald

The St. Clair County Commissioners on Thursday will go over the budget for the Blue Water Convention Center and will hear updates on the progress of the building.

The 40,000-square-foot convention center is near completion and will be finished under budget, said board Chairman Jeff Bohm.

“The thing we have to focus on is finishing the convention center to make sure it is up and running,” Bohm said. “We are not complete yet, but just getting it run efficiently is important.”

Bohm said the county updates the convention center budget monthly. A document with the costs is in the packet commissioners receive for each meeting.

County administrator Bill Kauffman will talk about the convention center, including what has been installed since the last report in December.

As of Dec. 31, the convention center construction fund had $1.8 million remaining.

There was $2.5 million in the budget as of Nov. 30, according to a construction fund update provided to the St. Clair County Board of Commissioners.

Bohm said the difference can be attributed to paying for construction costs.

Third District Commissioner Howard Heidemann is one of the three commissioners who serves on the change-order committee for the convention center.

He said the convention center has had only a few change orders since November.

“There was some issue with the way the architect had modeled the area in the front and back of the long hallway and it needed to be insulated. The expense was minimal,” Heidemann said. “We will be well under budget. I wouldn’t be surprised if we weren’t $100,000 under budget.”

Bohm said there have been eight change-order meetings. The ninth will be Thursday before the regular board meeting.

Adoption of the convention center’s 2015 operating budget was removed from Thursday’s agenda.

Bohm said items regularly are removed from the agenda because the county doesn’t have all the information.

“Most of the convention center things are just progress reports and where we are at in the process,” Bohm said. “If anything does need to be discussed, it will be brought up at the meeting.”

Commissioners also will focus on the county’s 2015 and 2016 priorities.

Bohm said commissioners have until early February to add priorities to the list.

“We are going to discuss a little bit more of the ideas and initiatives from the last meeting,” Bohm said. “Then we will set our priorities for this year. Some of these items take longer than others because they are bigger initiatives.”

The priorities range from building a new impound lot for the sheriff’s department to approving plans for the former Art Van building in Port Huron.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at (810) 989-6270 or twittkowsk@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Jan. 14, 2015)

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