County earmarks $2.7 million for new courthouse

EDINBURG — Hidalgo County commissioners set aside $2.7 million for any unforeseen costs related to the construction of the new county courthouse at a meeting Tuesday.

Two years ago, the county earmarked about $4 million for the project as part of a contingency plan, and the $2.7 million set aside Tuesday is what’s left of those funds, Hidalgo County Budget Officer Sergio Cruz said.

From the initial $4 million that was set aside, commissioners recently spent just over $1 million to purchase the reverter clause attached to the courthouse property deed, which stipulated the property where the current courthouse sits would be reverted back to the original land grantors should the courthouse be moved elsewhere.

Commissioners also spent about $200,000 in attorney fees for Porter Hedges LLP, a Houston-based firm that is guiding the county through the project’s procurement process and reviewing contracts being entered into with the architectural and program management firms.

The county chose to work with the firm because of its familiarity with courthouse projects and those involving construction managers at risk, Cruz said.

The $2.7 million, which was transferred from the general fund, has not been earmarked for any specific purpose yet. It will allow the county to quickly move forward with any unforeseen costs, instead of having to wait to issue bonds.

“It’s a process that can take between 60 to 90 days,” Cruz said about bond issuances. “So it’s something we could have just in case we need to procure something a little bit faster.”

Commissioners also approved Tuesday three subcontractors for HDR, the architectural firm for the project: Pacheco Koch of Dallas, Wrightson, Johnson, Haddon & Williams, Inc. and McClintock + Hershfield.