Bay County Courthouse Annex Contract Signed

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. Bay County commissioners approved a renegotiated contract Tuesday morning with the company that's building the courthouse expansion project.

They had to have a new agreement because the contract was already way over budget on the original contract. This new deal also includes some big compromises.

Construction crews will soon be crawling all over the property behind the Bay County Courthouse, building a 53,000 square foot courthouse annex.

"It's been a long drawn out process and it's a much needed improvement to the courthouse, structure, facilities, and i think the judges have been looking forward to it and I too," said Guy Tunnell, Bay County Commission Chairman.

Commissioners say expansion plans for the courthouse haven't always been smooth. Last month they lost patience with contractor, Yates Construction, which went over budget by $2 million and was falling behind schedule.

"We were dug in deep that we wouldn't go over the $12.5 million. We stuck pretty much to that and they stuck with they couldn't build what we wanted for that kind of money, so we both had to compromise," said George Gainer, a Bay County commissioner.

Those compromises include cutting 10,000 square feet off the annex. That will mean smaller courtrooms, chambers, and one less elevator.

"It really feels good because we got it done with the money we had to spend and that's always a good thing for me. So you never have to raise taxes to do what we need to do to keep Bay County running smoothly," said Gainer.

Work is expected to begin within the next month or two.

Commissioners also approved an additional $300,000 to pay for building permit fees, inspections, and unexpected site conditions.

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