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Revised Prop P budget goes to Mehlville board


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The demolition of Oakville Elementary School is nearly complete as evidenced by this photograph taken earlier this week. The school is being demolished to make way for a new Oakville Elementary School that will be constructed as part of the Mehlville School District's Proposition P districtwide building improvement program.

By MIKE ANTHONY

Executive Editor

A revised budget for the Proposition P districtwide building im-provement program that projects expenditures totaling more than $86 million was scheduled to be considered earlier this week by the Mehlville Board of Education.

The Board of Education was scheduled to meet Monday night — after the Call went to press.

District voters in November 2000 approved Proposition P, a nearly $68.4 million districtwide building improvement program funded by a 49-cent tax-rate increase.

Under the proposed revised Proposition P budget, the total cost of the districtwide building improvement program and related projects would be $86,090,548 through June 30, 2008.

Meanwhile, current district projections indicate the 49-cent tax-rate increase will generate nearly $26 million more over 20 years than what is required to retire bond-like certificates of participation issued to fund the Proposition P improvements.

Superintendent Tim Ricker told the Call Friday that perhaps an analysis of the Proposition P budget should have been done much earlier, but noted that "hindsight's always 20-20.''

"... We really kind of think that as we've looked at it over the summer and in the spring of the year, we probably should have gone back and done a budget analysis maybe a year ago or so,'' he said. "But if you look at where we were at, at a year or so ago in the projects, we were in the heat of finishing up the two high schools and the heat of finishing up these four middle schools, so hindsight's always 20-20.

"But I think what we have in mind now can do us very well from now until the end of the projects and then whatever we want to do in long-range planning for whatever the funds are available, what the excess money would go toward, whether we're going to look at options for additional study, so on and so forth. We'll talk more about that on Monday as we go through the budget process,'' Ricker added.

In October 2001, the Board of Education voted to approve a $72.4 million budget for Proposition P. Interest on the bond-like certificates of participation issued to fund Proposition P allowed the construction budget to increase to $72.4 million, which included a nearly $3.5 million master contingency.

To date, about 83 percent of the work on Proposition P has been contracted, while about 67 percent of the work has been completed. To date, contingency funds totaling $2,157,659 remain available. That includes master contingency funds, technology contingency funds, remaining site contingency funds and contingency funds from future projects.

Among the expenditures to date from the master contingency are $545,626 for sprinklers at Mehlville Senior High, $158,000 for sprinklers at Oakville Senior High and $198,690 for sprinklers at Washington Middle School.

Current estimates indicate the 49-cent tax-rate increase will generate $170,165,506 through 2022, while the amount needed to retire the certificates of participation is projected at $144,346,224 — leaving a surplus of $25,819,282 in district capital funds. The estimated surplus does not include any interest that may be earned.

The proposed revised Proposition P budget of $86,090,548 includes the board-approved budget of $72.4 million, plus another $13,690,548 in district capital funds. To date, a total of $4,898,567 of district capital funds has been spent on Proposition P-related projects.

The proposed revised Proposition P budget was presented to the board last month by Randy Charles, assistant superintendent for finance and the district's chief financial officer. During his presentation June 23, Charles cited three reasons for the use of capital funds, including code requirements, hidden conditions and original budget estimates that were lacking in detail.

The code issues and hidden conditions that have resulted in extra cost to the district also have resulted in extra work for the project's construction manager, the McCarthy Construction Co., and the architectural firm for the project, Dickinson Hussman Architects, according to Charles.

While the district is negotiating with the firms to reduce their fees related to the extra work, the district's cost projections will have to be increased, according to the assistant superintendent.

Under the board-approved original Prop-osition P budget, McCarthy's fee for serving as construction manager for the project was $2,835,000. Current projections indicate the final cost will be $2,826,337 — $8,663 less than budgeted.

However, in the cost of Prop P-related projects presented to the board, McCarthy is projected to be paid an additional $3,321,212 for "general conditions.'' To date, the construction manager has been paid $2,534,331.

"In addition to fees being paid to Mc-Carthy, general conditions include expenses incurred by McCarthy and the salaries of McCarthy personnel. This was ap-proved by the Board of Education when McCarthy was hired as the construction manager. District administration decided to pay general conditions from capital funds so Prop P funds could be used to pay for the sprinkler systems,'' according to information Charles provided to the board last month.

Similarly, under the board-approved Proposition P budget, the final costs of fees paid to Dickinson Hussman Archi-tects is projected at $4,491,039. To date, however, the district has paid $4,198,957.

In addition, in the cost of Prop P-related items presented to the board, Dickinson Hussman Architects is projected to be paid an additional $200,000 for "general conditions.'' To date, the company has been paid $148,261.

Given the additional costs being incurred by McCarthy and Dickinson Hussman, Ricker said district officials are interested in negotiating a fixed price for the remainder of the Proposition P work.

"... We did an analysis of the two contracts for DHA and for McCarthy,'' Ricker said. "We're interested in talking with the board about looking at those contracts and seeing if we can't possibly come up with an agreement, specifically the McCarthy contract, on a fixed price for the remainder of the projects. So if we can get that done and not make it contingent on general conditions or anything that could be volatile, if we can get a single price, I think that's a wise move for us.''

Noting that board member Rita Die-kemper first had suggested the possibility of pursuing that, Ricker said, "We want to bring that up again and see where the board wants to go. I would be extremely surprised if they didn't want us to pursue that administratively and see if we can get that done for McCarthy specifically, but I think we'll talk with DHA about that too.''

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