The Mission Consolidated Independent School District Board of Trustees Facilities Committee was surprised Tuesday, Oct. 11 when they were told the school district didn’t have enough bond money to pay for the proposed $11.7 million administration building, and would not be able to cover the overage with other fund sources.
When the Facilities Committee met last week to rank the only two bids on the project, the committee was told by Assistant Superintendent for Finance Rumalda Ruiz if the cost of the project exceeded $11,350,000 in bond money, the excess funds would have to come from other sources. The committee members were assured the district had the funds available to cover the overage.
However, Tuesday, the bond counsel for the project told Ruiz the law would not allow the district to supplement the cost of the project with other funds. The total price of the project was advertised to not exceed $13,464,000, including soft costs and the valuation of the land and the old building being demolished. The land and building costs total $2,114,000. After deducting an estimated $880,000 in “soft costs” such as architect and engineering fees, the maximum construction cost is approximately $10,470,000.
The actual construction cost currently is $10,822,045, based on the Best and Final Offer negotiated with Rigney Construction.
The Finance Committee discussed options and agreed that going over budget was not an option, unless the district re-advertised the bonds to authorize a greater amount to be funded for the project.
Since the bids for the project came in higher than expected and market conditions could cause the prices to continue to climb, the committee members were anxious to find a solution quickly without further delays. Re-advertising the bonds would take 60 days – a delay the committee members were trying to avoid if possible.
Mission CISD Board President Patricia Ocaña-Olivarez said, “Every time we wait it costs money.”
Possible solutions discussed included:
• Value engineering, whereby the architect would be asked to look for ways to cut the cost of the project to fit the budget;
• Re-advertise the bonds at a price to cover all the project costs;
• Have district staff look for items that could be cut from the scope of the project;
• Have bond counsel consult with the attorney general’s office to determine if there are some alternatives that would make more funds available for the actual construction costs;
• Take some of the alternate items out of the contract with Rigney Construction and get separate bids on those items to try and bring down the cost.
Assistant Superintendent for Operations Rick Rivera said the district has bid out certain portions of projects previously at substantial savings.
“As an example, at Mission Collegiate High School we had approximately $700,000 as an alternate for the cabling, and when we pulled it out and the district did it ourselves, it came out to like $350,000.”
The bid price for the data cabling, racks and other electrical equipment on the proposed administration building is $508,200, and Rivera said it is possible the district could save money by bidding out this alternate separately
A regular board meeting was held following the Finance Committee meeting where the board decided to direct the architect to make proposed modifications to the design of the building to bring the cost down to meet the budget.
Meanwhile, the bond counsel will find out if he can obtain any relief through the attorney general’s office. He said he expected to have an answer by the end of the week.