thecarrollnews.com

Bids for STEAM lab come in nearly 75 percent over budget

By Allen Worrell Editor

December 20, 2013

Even though bids came in nearly 75 percent over the anticipated price, the Carroll County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) has accepted the low bid of $367,400 for a new STEAM lab at Carroll County High School.


The project will construct the new STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture and Math) Lab at CCHS. Clerk of the Works Dennis Cole said the project will create about 1,400 square feet of lab space in addition to renovations underneath for storage and office space. The project was bid December 5th but only two of four prequalified contractors bid on the project. Clark Brothers of Stuart was the low bidder with a base bid of $359,500. Triad Builders of King, N.C. also put in a base bid of $416,800.


An additive bid was also accepted to remove paint from the existing floor in the ag lab and to replace it with new paint. Again, Clark Brothers had the low bid of $7,900, besting Triad’s bid of $8,600.


“We looked at the cost of the additive bid and decided it would be in our best interest to go ahead and accept both for $367,400,” Cole said.


The project is over budget, Cole said, as bids were anticipated to come in around $210,500. Cole said the higher price was explained to him by another contractor who did not bid on the project.


“He described to me it is a small project. It is a good indoor project to take but with any of these other contractors you still would have all the overhead and profit that would be associated with a large company, including having to put a supervisor on site to keep them out there on site the whole time,” Cole said. “Your job site expenses can run anywhere from $800 to $1,100 a day, which was a part of that and a reason why they felt the price would come in a little higher than we anticipated.”


Even though the project is so far over budget, Cole felt like there was enough money in the contingency plan required by federal funding agency USDA-Rural Development to set aside for things like this. He said the IDA is required to keep 10 percent of the contract amount it borrows in contingency. Right now, he said the IDA has roughly $500,000 in contingency funds it hasn’t touched on two other projects at CCHS. One of those projects, installation of a natural gas pipeline, has already been completed. The other project, renovation of the HVAC system at the high school, is almost completed.


Cole said he and Carroll County Administrator Gary Larrowe have talked with USDA about moving that contingency money over to cover the additional costs for the STEAM Lab. IDA member Andy Jackson wanted to know how much money would have to be moved over from contingency funds. Larrowe said it could be done multiple ways. He said one option for cases with money left over in a project is to spend it on approved items in the project.


Larrowe said one thing the IDA is considering to do with the extra funds is to replace the roof at the high school. Rural Development has given the IDA a verbal answer on that, but not a written one, he said. Larrowe said he thought the first thing to do would be to approve a revised budget for all three renovations at CCHS, and then approve the STEAM LAB bids. Cole said the only caveat to that is the revised budget has an estimated amount for the roof. The actual cost is unknown at this point.


Cole said he figured the project would come in at a price of about $210 per square foot. Normally that would have been a little high, but the low bid on the project actually came in at $346 per square foot.


“That is high. A high price for school construction right now is $120 per square foot,” Cole said. “We figured $210 because of the base price, but it came in at $346.”


IDA member Roger Wilson then made a motion for the Authority to approve a revised budget for the STEAM Lab project, HVAC renovations and natural gas pipeline at CCHS at a total cost of $5,932,500, subject to USDA Rural Development approval. IDA member Andy Jackson seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.


IDA member Clinton Willie followed with a motion to accept Clark Brothers as the low bidder and to provide the notice to proceed on the project. IDA member Larry Chambers seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.


Cole said Clark Brothers will have 180 days to complete the project once it receives notice to proceed from the county.