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Trustees displeased with ‘multi-use’ costs

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An increase of almost $700,000 in the cost of the “multi-use” project at Westfort was accepted by trustees at their regular public school board meeting last night but not without some trepidation.

About $401,573 of the hike were separate price items, things which trustee Dennis Brunn said were listed as part of the original planning that didn’t have to be done now, such as repairing existing ceramic tile, but would have to be shortly after the building was up.

The other $296,000 were additional scope items, things which had to be added on to the project after renovations started in the original Westfort building, such as an estimated $125,000 to grind and level existing floors and $60,000 to bring the cafeteria’s kitchen up to code.

“They’ve got us between a rock and a hard place on some of these things,” board vice-chair Judy Eluik noted.

“My question is what else are they going to find?” wondered trustee Dan Belluz. “Two months down the road, is there an extra half-a-million that gets added on?”

Belluz added these “additional costs” should have been thought of long ago when the architects were designing the building. He also wondered if these new costs would be tendered out, or added on to existing trade contracts at the discretion of Daoust Construction.

“I don’t want to see all this control given to a construction manager,” he said. “I’m not arguing whether we have to do it or not. I’m just saying at what cost?”

Brunn said any individual item costing more than $20,000 would have to be tendered out. But there still seemed to be a lot of unease over having to add on to the school’s already over-inflated $17.2 million budget.

“I don’t feel comfortable voting yes to this resolution because I don’t know what this building costs ,” said trustee Jim Leonard.

Shortly after the meeting ended, chairman Gordon McBride said the board will have to discuss in the near future where these extra costs have been coming.

“Trustees are extremely disappointed with rising costs,” he said. “I’m extremely disappointed in what the cost of this whole thing is. This board inherited a project from a past board that was already out of control.”

McBride stressed he did not want to lay blame at any of the three school boards that have dealt with the “multi-use” project to date. But he did share Belluz’s concerns over why its budget has grown so out of hand.

“I think if a project does start here and ends up there, I agree [the architects] should have foreseen this,” he said.

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