County Commission flushes second attempt to replace toilets in courthouse restrooms


Last Updated on July 15, 2015 – 7:45 AM CDT

This story has been updated.

The third time might be a charm as far the Moore County Commissioners Court approving a bid to replace the six toilets on the first floor in the courthouse. B.J. Ballard explained his bid Monday to replace the toilets, but after the discussion, the commissioners asked him to prepare another proposal to replace all 10 of the toilets in the courthouse. It was the second time in two months the commissioners declined to approve Ballard’s bid.

During the commissioners’ June 8 meeting, Maintenance Supervisor Miguel Rivera submitted a bid from Ballard Plumbing to replace the toilets on the courthouse’s first floor for $4,530.48. The commissioners questioned the cost and wanted to know why Rivera couldn’t replace the toilets. Rivera explained the installation was more complicated than just installing a toilet. Water would have to be shut off to the first floor, and in a three-story building, pressure from the upper floors could create problems for the first floor. Rivera said he preferred to have a crew, such as Ballard’s, on hand in case something happened during the installation that required an experienced plumbing team.

The commissioners didn’t approve Ballard’s bid on June 8 and said they wanted to see a second bid. On Monday, Ballard told the commissioners he had heard they discussed his bid when Rivera presented it at the earlier meeting and were looking for a second one. He questioned the search for a second bid, saying his bid had been published, and it would be easy for a competitor to underbid him.

During Monday’s meeting and the one on June 8, some of the commissioners said they aren’t convinced of the need to replace the toilets.

“I’ve never heard any complaints about them,” Commissioner Lynn Cartrite said. “Why do we have to replace them if they’re working?”

Rivera and Moore County Judge Rowdy Rhoades said it sometimes takes two flushes to empty the toilet bowls, and it takes five gallons to flush each toilet. Also, Ballard said the toilets are outdated and not efficient.

“The new ones use less water,” Ballard said. “They use 1.6 gallons of water per flush instead of five. A toilet requires what it was built for, and it’s hard to find parts for a five-gallon toilet.”

Ballard also said the plumbing in the courthouse is some of the oldest in Moore County, and the chaseways behind the toilets are almost impossible to access. He expects to have two licensed plumbers and an apprentice on site when the toilets are replaced. Ballard repeated what Rivera said during the June 8 meeting, explaining the complexities of draining water lines, air pressure, the havoc rust could wreak if it gets in the system and other issues that could arise while working on the courthouse’s old plumbing infrastructure.

The commissioners asked about the condition of the toilets on the second and third floors of the courthouse, and Rhoades’ assistant, Carolyn Moore, said she’s had problems with the toilet on the second floor.

“If you have a problem on the second floor, rebid it, and do them all at once,” Cartrite said.

The commissioners told Ballard to prepare a bid for the four additional toilets on those floors, for a total of 10. The bid would include the stipulation that the work would be done on the weekend. The commissioners told Ballard no one would be bidding against him.

“This is really a maintenance issue, and we have plenty of money to take care of it in that budget,” Rhoades said.