After years of saving, the Cole County Commission says it's moving forward on its million-dollar expansion of its EMS building.
Wednesday, in a 2-1 vote, the commission awarded the project to Ameresco, an independent energy solutions company.
Presiding Commissioner Marc Ellinger and Eastern District Commissioner Jeff Hoelscher supported Ameresco's plan from the beginning, but Western District Commissioner Kris Scheperle dragged his feet.
That resulted in a more than hour long debate on whether Ameresco's plan is the best for the county.
Ameresco reps showed the commissioners what the company plans to do with the county's $1.2 million.
Ameresco says it would make the current building more energy-efficient, leave the current operations undisturbed during construction, use local companies to do the work- and have it all done within 90 days of the start date.
"I like getting it done in 90 days, and I like that we have a firm fixed cost. We don't have to worry about additions in the future," said Ellinger.
And the company says the cost is locked-in. Ameresco promises the commissioners if anything comes along that could cost more than the agreed-upon amount, the company would pay for it out of its own pocket.
"They have to do the entire project for that amount of money with no changes. If something occurs during the process that they have to make a change, they have to pay for that change," said Ellinger.
But Scheperle feels the set price is too high. He says it could be done cheaper.
"I just felt like it was overpriced. $130 a square foot for an interior finish, I thought was too costly," said Scheperle.
Scheperle also says he wishes they were getting more for their money.
"Even at 1.2 million, we're not getting everything that we really need. We're going to have a whole lot of wasted space," said Scheperle.
When it came down to the vote, the "yesses" had it.
Ameresco reps say they are thrilled to be doing work in the capital city.
"I'm very excited. We love the opportunity to earn Cole County's business. Out of any county in the state, I think, Cole County is the best possible client that we could earn, given that the capital is here and you're in the middle of the state," said Ameresco rep, Gerard Puleo.
No start date for construction has been released.