Adjustments seen needed if J'ville public safety complex is to meet budget
by Laura Gaddy
Jun 25, 2013 | 1964 views |  0 comments | 136 136 recommendations | email to a friend | print
JACKSONVILLE — According to an estimate completed last week, the new Jacksonville public safety complex would cost about $17.5 million if built as currently planned, a figure $3.5 million over budget. The city has borrowed $14 million to pay for the complex, the report further notes.

The Jacksonville City Council on Monday discussed the findings of the report for the first time, approved a measure that will allow contractors to begin preparing the construction site and began looking for ways to reduce the cost of the project.

“I think we’re just going to have to sit down and figure out some places we can cut,” Jacksonville Mayor Johnny Smith said. “This gives a good place to start.”

An out-of-state engineering and architectural firm, Construction Consulting Associates, produced the project estimate, which was divided in two parts. The portion of the project that would house the municipal court, the police department and the fire department would cost about $14.2 million while the portion of the project that would house city hall offices would cost $3.2 million, Smith said.

Smith and at least one council member said the estimate was much higher than they expected. However, project manager Stan Batey, whom the City Council hired this spring to work part-time in that position, said at least three items in the report are estimated well above what the city should expect to pay.

Batey said contingencies are included in the estimate to make sure the city isn’t hit with extra costs at the end, such as might be due to environmental factors or contractor’s fees. The estimate states that the city should budget about $1.5 million for those contingencies, but Batey disagreed.

“These contingencies that are built in might happen, but they might not happen,” Batey said.

Smith said Batey was hired to help the city determine which features it needs at the complex. Batey also made recommendations concerning the cost of the project.

In addition to saying the contingency costs were inflated, Batey also told the council a line item that estimates the contractor’s overhead and benefit costs were overshot in the report.

“Don’t be discouraged about these numbers because these estimates are inflated,” Batey said.

After a specially scheduled work session which followed a formal meeting, the council reconvened and gave Smith the authority to sign a contract to begin preparing the construction site. He said the move will enable initial work to begin this fall, the same time the city will begin inviting bids for the construction phase of the development.

Before the meeting ended, Council President Mark Jones told city department heads to begin considering cutting items from their portions of the project. Officials identified several items that could be cut from the project including two generators costing $750,000 together, a $250,000 covered walkway and a “impact resistant” glass.

“It’s evident that we’re going to need to make some cuts,” Jones said.

Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.
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