BRASHER FALLS - An already tight budget for an $8.2 million capital improvement project at St. Lawrence Central School continues to stay tight.
Superintendent Stephan J. Vigliotti Sr. told board of education members that they had already started the project with a lower-than-usual contingency fund to handle any potential cost overruns, and thats been complicated by more asbestos and lead abatement than projected, among other issues.
Weve painted this picture since July. Were kind of over budget. But its manageable... if we decide to scale back the project, Mr. Vigliotti said.
For example, he said, representatives from SEI Design Group, the districts architectural firm, has recommended taking a $93,000 credit for a pool filtration system that they reported is in good working order rather than replacing it. That, along with another $90,000 time credit for work that wouldnt be done during this project would provide some financial flexibility through the end of the project, Mr. Vigliotti said.
Those are the two things that theyre recommending, he said.
Without taking those credits, Mr. Vigliotti said, SEI Design Group representatives have suggested the district could find itself in a difficult financial situation as the work progresses.
Some of the costs that have come in higher than anticipated were asbestos and lead abatement, according to the superintendent.
Asbestos abatement certainly was more extensive than anticipated and lead abatement, he said.
Mr. Vigliotti said theyre also looking at an approximate $40,000 bill to insulate pipes being replaced in the high school and elementary, and skylights also need to be addressed - if not now, then in another project.
We have some roof skylights that are aged and its recommended that we take those skylights out and put decking in and fill those in because, if we dont, they anticipate were going to have problems with those in the near future. The cost hasnt been determined at this point yet, he said.
The insulation has to get done. The roof skylights certainly dont have to be done at this point. But if not, that might be something to consider as we finish this project up and look at this building, which is no longer under warranty and has had quite a number of penetrations to it and certain things growing out of the top of it, Mr. Vigliotti said.
He also pointed out that, although estimates provided by architects at the very beginning of the project had come in higher than anticipated, board members had opted to move forward with the work.
That was discussed before me, said Mr. Vigliotti, who took over as superintendent on July 1, replacing the retiring Stephen M. Putman. Now were at a crossroads in the situation where we want to ensure we have enough money to get to the end.
Mr. Putman had told board members during their April meeting that the general, electric and plumbing bids had come within the budget, but the mechanical work had come in higher than anticipated.
Altogether, bids for general, mechanical, electric and plumbing work totaled $7,633,000. With change orders to eliminate some items and get the project back to the budgeted level, the cost dropped to $7,212,325.
District taxpayers in December 2011 had approved the $8.2 million capital project that would allow the district to convert from heating oil to natural gas once St. Lawrence Gas passed by the district during its expansion into Franklin County.
That is allowing the district to make the conversion to natural gas and save money in the process. They also plan to convert from steam to hot water, which will also save money. The steam line and heating units date back to the 1950s.
By a 5-1 vote, contracts were awarded in April to Meridian Construction Corporation for general work, Black River Plumbing, Heating & AC for Mechanical Work, S&L Electric, Inc. for electric work and Burns Brothers, Inc. for plumbing work.
There had been discussion during that meeting about putting the project back out for another vote. But Matthew S. Monaghan, senior principal with SEI Design Group, had suggested that in addition to delaying the project they might not have as many bidders during a second round and prices might come in higher as companies begin bidding their work for the season.
He told board members they didnt receive many replies for the mechanical work during the original bidding process, which could have attributed to the higher bids.
Now, Mr. Vigliotti said, board members will need to make decisions about the project to keep it within budget with less of a contingency budget than normal.
The level of contingency that was budgeted was far lower than what I would say a typical project would have. All the projects Ive been associated with have had a minimum of 15 percent and a maximum of 25 percent in incidental costs. We had a lot less than that, he said.
As they make decisions on this project, they also need to think about work that would need to be done down the road in a separate project, Mr. Vigliotti said.
Theres certainly additional things that we found since we did this capital project that need to be addressed in the near future, he said.