Mt. Vernon Register-News

December 17, 2013

Some new school bids too high

By TRAVIS MORSE travis.morse@register-news.com
The Register-News

---- — MT. VERNON — Four of the construction projects for the new proposed Mt. Vernon Township High School drew bids that were considerably higher than initial estimates.

Last week, bids were received and opened for roughly 25 construction projects or “work categories” being bid out for the new school.

The high bids in question were for masonry, metals, plaster and general trades.

Chief Architect Greg Brown said the bids have resulted in the overall project budget being 9 to 10 percent higher than what was hoped.

At this time, consultants are meeting with contractors to develop potential cost-saving measures, Brown said. It’s also possible some of the projects could be rebid.

“What we’re doing is trying to find the best bang for the buck, so to speak,” Brown said.

The new school project was discussed at Monday night’s meeting of the MVTHS Board of Education.

Representatives of FGM Architects and the McCarthy firm were in attendance to provide the board with an update on the bidding process.

Consultants said the masonry bids, in particular, were much higher than what was budgeted for.

Two bids were submitted for masonry. Heitkamp Masonry Inc. offered a bid of $8,955,000 and Diecker-Terry Masonry Inc. had a bid of $9,361,250.

Board members and consultants spoke of several possibilities for how to deal with the cost overrun.

Rebidding some of the problematic work categories is one option. However, some board members worried this could delay the overall project.

“That’s always a last resort,” Superintendent Michael Smith said of rebidding. “(But) that’s always a possibility the board may consider.”

Another possible option is to award bids for some of the more critical work now — such as for earthwork and concrete — and then rebid other projects later, Brown said.

As of now, district consultants are in the process of interviewing contractors who submitted bids for critical projects.

The MVTHS Board of Education will hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday to consider any recommendations brought forth by the consultants.

In addition Monday, the MVTHS Board approved a resolution for the district to withdraw from the Prairie State Insurance Cooperative, which provides the district’s risk management insurance.

The district will now enter a six-week grace period, during which it will seek competitive pricing from other insurance firms, Smith said.

At the end of this period, MVTHS may decide to stay with PSIC or it may select new coverage, Smith said.

The decision to withdraw was motivated by “pricing,” Smith said. The board will also consider hiring a consulting firm to help with selecting an insurance carrier.

Other board actions Monday included:

n Approval of a 24-month contract with the firm, Constellation, for providing the district with natural gas. The contract is set at a variable rate. This approval came after a presentation from Jeff Haarmann of Affordable Gas & Energy, a consulting firm working with MVTHS.

n Approval of the 2013 district tax levy, which seeks a 7.91 percent increase over the prior year. A Truth in Taxation hearing was also held at Monday’s meeting regarding the tax levy. However, no members of the public made comments.

n Approval of employing Sherrie Buchanan as a special education aide, Step 1, for the remainder of the 2013-2014 school year. Buchanan will start Jan. 6.