The price tag to construct the new Department of Public Works facility in Bournedale has gone up.
The Public Works Building Committee will be asking voters at next week’s Town Meeting to approve an additional $975,000 for the project. It is included in the warrant as Article 4 of the Special Town Meeting.
Town director of public works and facilities Jonathan R. Nelson said that the reason the cost of the building has increased is that the construction market has gone up anywhere from 20 to 27 percent from when the budget was first put together in September 2012 and Town Meeting approved that figure in May of last year.
Mr. Nelson said that at that time the Public Works Building Committee established a budget for the building of $11,080,798.
He said that the new facility can be built for the budgeted amount, but only the basic building. Wes Construction of Halifax came in with the low bid at $11,077,204. However, during the design work, changes and additions to the project were deemed to be necessary for DPW operations. It is those new changes and additions that cannot be covered by the original allocation, he said.
Included in those changes and additions are a fuel island, a security camera system, a canopy on the rear building to protect DPW equipment parked outside, and a chain link galvanized fence that will circle the entire property.
Mr. Nelson also explained that the town has tried to hold down the cost of installing the additional items by having town employees do much of the actual work involved as opposed to contracting the projects out to subcontractors. He estimated that the overall cost of the new facility would have been an additional $1.4 million dollars if the town contracted out the work. He said that with town employees doing the work, the main cost will be materials.
“The town can get a better price by going directly to the vendor that supplies them,” he said.
Town employees will also be involved in laying the piping for underground drainage structures, installing the pole lights and the septic system, and the curbing at the site.
He said the one item that the town would not do any work on would be the fencing around the property. For that, the town would have the supplier do the installation, too.
He added that the $975,000 requested is just a budget number. He said he is confident that the cost for the additional work will be lower.
“I think that we’ll save additional money on top of that,” he said.
Mr. Nelson agreed that the cost of constructing just the base building, minus any of the additional items, falls within the amount of money appropriated by voters for the project. Asked why the town would not consider doing the extras a year at a time, with separate funding requests stretched out over a period of time, Mr. Nelson said each is needed when the facility opens for business, or soon after it opens. He said that the Public Works Building Committee decided a one-time request was the better approach.
“The overall feeling of the committee was that it was better to go back and ask for the money now, than it was to go back multiple Town Meetings after,” he said.
Mr. Nelson said that while a considerable amount of the work will be done by town employees, the town does not have the expertise needed to build the base building on its own.
“Building construction is complicated; we definitely don’t have the ability to do that in-house,” he said.
He added that there are certain bid laws governing building projects that the town has to abide by. Those guidelines come into play when the price of a project exceeds a certain threshold, and include the hiring of a designer and an engineer. He said that construction of a building the size of the new DPW facility also involves multiple trades.
“You’ll still have to contract out a significant portion of the labor,” he said.
Mr. Nelson said that the Public Works Building Committee has not come up with an alternative plan should Article 4 be turned down by voters next week. He said that he believes it makes sense for the town to move forward with the base building, which can be covered by the appropriated amount, and the salt storage shed, which can be paid for with Chapter 90 money. As for the additional items, he said that he considers them vital.
“It would be a tough situation. Maybe it’s something where we go back next year and ask for a portion of it,” he said.