County bathroom bill bugs board member

The bid for a bathroom had La Salle County Board member Larry Butkus shaking his head Thursday.

“How does remodeling a bathroom cost as much as a house? Someone help me out,” the Peru Republican asked at the board’s meeting Thursday.

Butkus was puzzled in connection with the restroom in the basement area of the courthouse on Etna Road, where prospective jurors wait and are processed. The bathroom is to be remodeled to make it more accessible to disabled persons. Butkus had no problem with that, but couldn’t believe the price — $145,650 for the work, with about $20,000 more in design and consulting fees.

Butkus noted he knows a thing or two about such projects, because he used to run a remodeling business and his father was a plumber.

The county received seven bids for the work, of which the $145,650 bid, from Liebhart Construction, of Ottawa, was the lowest. Basalay, Cary & Alstadt Architects, of Ottawa, is handling the design. The remodeling is to be largely done by the end of April.

Board member Steven Tuftie, R-rural Ottawa, who chairs the board’s property committee, which is overseeing the project, explained to Butkus the remodeling is extensive and involves structural work, but Butkus continued shaking his head.

The majority of the board voted to accept the bid and proceed with the project, but Butkus was joined by Russell Boe, R-rural Ottawa, and Ernest Weiss, R-rural Ottawa, in voting against the bid.