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Jackson County executive proposes code change to fix courthouse elevators

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Posted at 11:13 AM, Aug 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-19 18:16:13-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After a judge blasted Jackson County for its failure to bring all of the elevators at the downtown courthouse into operation, County Executive Frank White said he will recommend a proposal to expedite the repairs.

Marshanna Smith, a spokeswoman for White’s office, said Monday that White will propose changes to the county’s purchasing code, which would allow him to waive competitive bidding requirements in an emergency.

According to Smith, the change would allow White to “immediately enter into a contract for the repair and modernization of the downtown courthouse elevators.”

The Jackson County Legislature must amend the purchasing code through an ordinance.

“Since becoming County Executive, I have advocated for increased funding for the downtown courthouse,” White said in the statement. “While I understand the Judge’s frustrations, we cannot move forward by continuing to point fingers.”

White said in the statement that flooding at the courthouse this winter has delayed repairs to the building’s six elevators.

“The Legislature approved my recommendation for funding in the 2019 budget and had it not been for the devastating floods, we would be well underway on the elevator modernization project,” he said.

Earlier Monday, the county said that one of the elevators taken out of service last week had been repaired, leaving the courthouse with two working elevators.

White’s proposal comes after Judge David Byrn sent a letter to White on Thursday expressing his frustration with the lack of working elevators at the courthouse. In his letter, he said the 15-story courthouse has been operating with only two public elevators since February.

“This deficiency is problematic for the Court as we fulfill our duties to litigants, attorneys, jurors, staff and the public in general,” Byrn wrote in his letter. “However, when one of the elevators stops operating, it becomes almost impossible to meet these obligations.”

White said last week that he has been advocating for repairs to the elevators for two years and that the project has gone through the bidding process.

Schindler Elevator Corporation submitted a bid for the elevator project, but the proposal was rejected by the county's Compliance Review Office, which White does not oversee. The company submitted another proposal and is expecting a response in September.