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If approved, bids could place Prop P $1.189 million over budget


The Mehlville Board of Education was faced with making a decision earlier this week that could have placed its districtwide building improvement program $1.189 million over budget with renovation work at Blades, Beasley and Point elementary schools.

Without approval of the overage Tuesday night — after the Call went to press — renovation work at the three elementary schools could be delayed for a year.

The districtwide program, Proposition P, was supported by voters through the approval of a 49-cent-tax levy in November 2000 to fund $68.4 million in building improvements.

Last revised in September, the Proposition P budget now totals $86.7 million.

Consideration of the bids was tabled at the board's Feb. 2 meeting so that a bid analysis and updated numbers could be presented to the board this week.

The total overage of $1,189,060 is $20,180 less than the $1,209,240 overage from information presented at last week's board meeting.

The district was able to offset the overage by $312,800, but there still are $876,260 in unanticipated costs.

Bids presented to the board Feb. 2 by the McCarthy Construction Co., the Proposition P construction manager, showed that work at Blades Elementary would total $1,781,847, which would have been $555,818 over budget, excluding the $82,000 the district was able to offset through a Missouri of Department Natural Resources loan.

But current figures, based on updated bids, reveal that work at Blades would total $1,772,378, which is $9,469 less than what was presented last week. If approved, the project would be $546,349 over budget, of which board members were scheduled to discuss Tuesday how they would fund the additional $464,349 that exceeds the school's $1,226,029 construction budget.

McCarthy Construction and Dickinson Hussman, the district's architectural firm for Proposition P, have found a way to lower the overage at Blades by $82,683 through value engineering, according to district documents, and board members were scheduled to discuss those savings Tuesday night.

Bids presented to the board last week revealed that total work at Beasley Elementary was estimated at $1,173,497, which would have been $171,620 over budget, excluding $66,800 that the district was able to offset through a DNR loan.

But current figures based on updated bids indicate that work at Beasley would total $1,168,200, which is $5,297 less than what was presented to board members Feb. 2. If board approved, the project would be $166,323 over the school's $1,001,877 construction budget, last revised in September. District officials will have to decide how to fund the extra $99,523 in unanticipated costs.

Bids presented to the board Feb. 2 by McCarthy also showed that work at Point Elementary School would total $1,542,356, which would have been $481,802 over budget, excluding $164,000 that the district was able to offset through a DNR loan.

But current figures based on updated bids show that work at Point would total $1,536,942, which is $5,414 less than what was presented two weeks ago. If approved, the project would be $476,388 over the school's $1,060,554 construction budget, which was last revised in September. The district was scheduled to discuss Tuesday how it would fund the extra $312,388 in unanticipated costs.

District documents also indicate McCarthy Construction and Dickinson Hussman discovered a possible $26,030 in savings for Point construction work, which would be discussed Tuesday.

In a related matter, board members were scheduled to consider revised contracts with McCarthy and Dickinson Hussman.

Dickinson Hussman received a $35,716 increase in fees and $21,000 increase in general conditions, according to documents available before the Call went to press.

If the school board approves the new contract, Dickinson Hussman would receive $4,526,755 in fees, up from September's $4,491,039. It also would receive $230,000 in general conditions, up from $209,000.

The increase in general conditions, according to district documents, is "because DHA will incur additional reimbursable expenses after McCarthy Construction is no longer involved with the project."

But board members still were negotiating a contract with McCarthy when the Call went to press. Adjustments to the McCarthy contract originally were scheduled for consideration during an early January board meeting, but negotiations continued.

A fixed price has been negotiated for McCarthy's fees, according to district documents, but McCarthy and the district disagree "significantly regarding the establishment of a limit on reimbursable expenses."

"We want a fixed price and we want to end this so that we're not guessing on what this is going to cost," Ricker said, noting that fees, reimbursable expenses and McCarthy's overhead costs have to be determined before the contract would be finalized.

"We just want to make sure we're being fiscally responsible on what they're saying it's going to cost us."

He acknowledged board members were alarmed by the $896,440 in construction work costs for Blades, Beasley and Point recently presented to the board that were significantly different than the costs presented to members of the Proposition P Oversight Committee in November.

Asked if administrators were planning to recommend that the district pursue a different construction company to finish the remaining Proposition P work, the superintendent said no.

"We have a contract with them and we want to work this thing out," Ricker said. "At this point in time, no ... It'll be better for us to work this out. But at the same time, McCarthy's going to be looking at their best interests and Randy (Charles, the district's chief financial officer and assistant superintendent of finance) and I and the board are going to be looking at the district's best interests.

"Sometimes that takes a while to work its way out," he said, noting administrators and McCarthy representatives still would be meeting over the weekend to finalize the contract.

However, the administration was scheduled to recommend that McCarthy Construction would only serve as construction manager for Proposition P until Nov. 30.

"From that point forward, district staff and DHA will oversee the construction of the remaining projects," district documents stated. "This will minimize the increase in fees and reimbursable expenses paid to McCarthy Construction."

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