The Village Board of Trustees voted to reject all bids from both the July 22 and Aug. 25 bid openings for the renovation of Village Hall building, as they all came in over the bonded amount. Mayor Hal Hecken stated that the bids were nearly half a million dollars over the bond budget. Village staff requested authorization to restructure the project to reduce the expenses and then rebid it, which was granted. The mayor also appointed a committee, to be led by Trustee Kettner, to examine the project with Village staff to cut costs and do the renovations without bonding for more.
A bond resolution had been passed on Sept. 30, 1997, which authorized the Village to issue $2,800,000 in serial bonds to add to the $100,000 already in the Village Budget for the construction of additions to Village Hall. The $2,900,000 appropriated was thought to be enough to cover the total cost of the project. When bids came back over the budget and the architect said he needed to amend his contract for more money, an amendment to the original bond was passed by the Village Board of Trustees at the Jan. 14, 1999 meeting, at which time the bond went from its original figure to $3,850,000. With the $100,000 from the budget, there was a total of $3,950,000 appropriated for the expansion project. The resolution to amend the bond passed with a unanimous vote by the trustees.
Back in February, Ted Bindrim, the architect for the project, addressed the POAs, Village trustees and staff, the press, and residents attempting to explain why the total estimate for the project was then approximately $1 million more than originally expected. Bindrim said that the shock of a million dollar difference between the original estimate given and the most recent estimate was poor communication on his part. He said that the construction budget is $3 million and when he offered an estimate to the Village, he presented this figure, essentially forgetting to provide the complete total that would include a 10 percent contingency cost, his own fee of 9 percent of the construction costs, the cost of a consulting engineer, the construction manager's fee, and the cost of overhead.
Bindrim said that when it was "realized by all of us that the other elements were not included in the figure given as the estimate, well there was just no getting away from it." He also stated that "from 1997, when we started the detailed work, costs have gone up since then." The $3 million construction figure was labeled a "supportable number" and said at that time that the amount was not expected to change and the total of $4 million was also not expected to rise.
Trustee Bruce Torino led a committee appointed by the mayor to investigate the rise in the cost before the Village was to vote on an amendment to the architectural contract at the Feb. 4 meeting. Trustee Torino explained at the Feb. 4 meeting that he and the committee had lengthy meetings with the engineering firm, Lazardo's, and Bindrim to review each cost and the reasons behind them. He said that after these meetings and a careful review of every item, that while he understands that "neither the Board nor the community like surprises in costs," they were able to account for everything and justify each cost and so it was his recommendation to approve the amendment to the contract with the architect.
Treasurer Kettner commented at that Feb. 4 meeting that while he was "satisfied that the work was done," and intended to vote to pay the remaining balance of the architect's and engineer's fees, he wanted to "reiterate my disappointment with the process. It sounds like, from Trustee Torino's description, that little by little, chunk by chunk, the costs went up." He also stressed, "I don't recall the Board being asked about these changes." He urged that in the future items be reviewed by the Board line by line to avoid future surprises.
Then Mayor Tauches explained at the Feb. 6 morning meeting that in 1992 it became clear that Village Hall would need extensive renovation to comply with changes in mandates on working conditions and new ADA requirements. Tauches also explained that the plans for Village Hall have evolved over time and have "been through the ringer." He added that there have been many participants in the development, including the residents, Village staff, Architectural Design Review Board, the Planning Board, and the Board of Trustees. He concluded that the changes are necessary in terms of federal and state mandates and "practical business requirements." Now it is likely that the plans will have to go through "the ringer" once more as the trustees and Village staff are charged with scaling back the project to keep it within its budget.
Mayor Hal Hecken stated last week, "It is very difficult to get bidders to be real close -- they tend to exceed what the estimates were -- it seems that contractors are not really anxious to do municipal work these days." He added, "We're not looking to increase the bond again, so we're going to have to scale back the project." Village Administrator Bob Schoelle stated that there were 28 bids received and all were for more than the budgeted amount. Mort Yuter commented during the citizens' comments, "I'm told in New York City you can't get a contractor these days" with regard to the difficulty in finding contractors willing to do the work at a fair price.
Future rounds of bidding on the project will be round three for the Village on a project that was originally bonded two years ago. Residents have expressed concern about the delays, but the Village trustees and staff are looking to have suggestions for ways to cut back and then go out to rebid soon. The next Village Board meeting is Oct. 21 at 8 p.m. in Village Hall and residents are always afforded an opportunity to speak or ask questions at the end of the meeting.