School Building Project Needs $15.5 Million More
The Guaranteed Maximum Price and new total for the school building project were announced Monday night.
The Board of Selectmen and School Committee held a joint meeting Monday night to announce the new school building project total of $122,652,133. The town will need $15,500,000 more to complete the school the way it was originally designed.
When first presented, the original project budget of $107,727,074 million was split into two parts: $86.5 million was the construction cost estimate and $21.2 million was for professional services, contingencies, furniture, fixtures and technology. According to Selectmen Chairman Sean Delaney, the $86.5 million construction cost estimate was wrong.
"We undervalued the project," Chris Carroll from PMA Consultants said Monday night.
The project is now going to cost $122,652,133, which breaks down to the total Guranteed Maximum Price (GMP), $101,452,133 plus the soft costs, $21,200,000.
The difference between the old and new total is $14,925,059.
The additional owner's contingency is $574,941, which makes the maximum additional funds needed $15,500,000.
According to a pamphlet handed out at one of the SSBC's informational sessions, "The GMP is the amount that the Construction Manager at-Risk guarantees the project construction cost will not exceed. The GMP includes the cost of work, plus contingency, the CM's General Conditions and Fee."
How does this impact my tax bill?
With the new estimated total for the project, the estimated tax increase, based on the average home value of $450,000, will be $176 per year. That is in addition to the tax increase residents would have seen before the new total was announced.
Residents will be able to vote to approve the additional funds at Special Town Meeting on March 18 at 7 p.m. and Special Election on March 22.
If residents vote to approve the additional funds, the project will remain on schedule, items will not be removed from the budget, the MSBA will still reimburse the original amount planned and there will be no annual impact on the operating budget. The school will be built the way it was originally designed.
If residents decide not to approve the additional funds and vote against it, there could be up to a seven-month project delay at a cost greater than $400,000 per month, the project will not be constructed as it was originally designed and several items will be removed from the budget, including cooling, sports fields, rubber stair treads, tennis courts, vinyl tile flooring, colored concrete and much more.
The selectmen and School Committee voted unanimously to recommend the article at Special Town Meeting.
However, none of the members of the board were happy with the situation.
Selectman Steve O'Leary said that he supports the additional funds because he thinks it’s necessary and the community deserves a completed project. However, he went on to say that he was first elected 40 years ago and in that time has seen a lot of projects completed in town including other schools and public safety facilities. All of those projects had their own issues, but the school building project “disgusts me and it angers me," he said.
It's not so much the price tag, he explained, because he believes that if the town had the right number to begin with the project would have been accepted.
“What angers me is that most of the people sitting in this room who were supportive of this project put their credibility on the line, and that’s what's hurting this community right now," he said.
Selectman Bob Mauceri said that he believes O'Leary's comments echo how the rest of the board feels.
"None of us are very happy with what has happened," Mauceri said.
He went on to say that "the bottom line is, we're here, we need another $15.5 million dollars to complete this project as originally proposed and failure to do so, at least from my looking at the numbers and looking at what would have to be removed from the project, we'd have no project. And without having a project, we've spent a lot of money, too."
Selectman Joe Foti mentioned that he heard from residents that if the final number was presented a year ago, people still would have voted for it. He believes there is a misconception around town that the project was mismanaged.
"That's not the case, not on the part of the town anyway," he said.
Selectmen Chairman Sean Delaney said that no one is more angry than he is about the situation because he stood in front of residents last year and said that the project would be finished on time and on budget.
He hopes that the town will not make a decision based on anger, because most of the time that would be the wrong decision, he said.
Anger is the emotion that most think of when they think of this project, School Committee Chairman Mel Webster said. He also mentioned that most sympathize for those who can't afford it, but he still believes that the additional funds are necessary.
"I do think we need to do this," he said
If the funds are not approved, "it won't be the project we hoped for and it won't meet the needs of the school department or the students," Webster said.