Repairs to the Johnny S. Calderon County Building have totaled over $600,000 after a fire last year damaged the roof and much of the interior.

Nueces County Commissioners learned last week that the final cost of repairs to the building was $613,774, with the county's insurance covering only about 25 percent of those costs. The building had been damaged Oct. 8, 2006 by a fire that began in the Precinct 5 constable's office within the Calderon building, but has since reopened.

According to a letter sent to the county by Great American Insurance Company of New York, an initial inspection of the damages had been conducted Oct. 9, 2006 by a general adjuster, who later met with Terry Orf of Architect TKO, the company handling repairs for the building. Afterwards, an agreement was made on the scope and estimated cost of repairs to the building and an initial payment of about $41,000 was made to the county.

Waterman said repairs were completed in January, with the entire roof being replaced instead of just the portion that was damaged in the fire. However, the insurance company declined to cover part of those costs because it had not been notified of the change in the damage's scope, nor had it been able to re-inspect the roof before work on the repairs began and was completed.

"Essentially what they were saying is if we disagreed with what the adjusters had reported, we should have said something before we started the work, not after," Waterman said. "We thought we had a valid claim there, but there's no guarantee in these situations."

County Judge Loyd Neal said the county should take steps to ensure this type of miscommunication with insurance adjusters doesn't happen again in the future.

"Where we had the biggest disagreement was the scope of the damage," Neal said. "What we need is a county representative on the ground with the inspectors when something like this happens."

Four payments were made to the county from the insurance company for repairs that totaled $146,691 and the county paid an additional $370,718, as well as a $100,000 deductible, county officials said.

Waterman said the county had actually planned to replace the roof of the Calderon building and had money set aside for the project, but the fire fast-tracked those plans.

"The only additional cost was the $100,000 deductible," Waterman said.