The general contractor bids are in and the Moretown town office is over budget.
The Moretown Select Board reviewed the cost estimates at their meeting on Monday, June 1. Four companies submitted bids ranging from roughly $766,000 to $1.1 million for the construction of a new one-story, 2,130-square-foot building on the current site of the Moretown Elementary School playground.
At $766,015, Ruggco Inc. of Barnet had the lowest bid, but adding to that a 5 percent contingency of $38,300, at $804,315 the total construction cost of the new town office is about $66,000 over the $743,821 estimate drawn up by Henry Erickson of Erickson Consulting, who is serving as clerk of the works for the project.
“We went into this project looking not to exceed our budget,” select board chair Tom Martin said on Monday, “and one of the first nights we sit down, we’re over budget,” he said.
That being said, “We didn’t know what the bids were going to be,” Moretown Town Office Committee chair Clark Amadon said.
After accounting for inflation, “This number is sort of spot-on with my number,” Erickson said.
“It is sort of tantalizingly close,” Amadon agreed, explaining that the town can still negotiate the number with the lowest bidder.
Each company that bid on the project also included the cost of a list of alternate features, such as polished concrete floors versus the proposed slate tile. In the other three bids, the cost of concrete was higher than the cost of tile, but with Ruggco, the polished concrete floors were actually $9,000 less.
Ruggco “has worked with polished concrete and is pretty comfortable with it,” Bill Gallup of project designer Maclay Architects said, explaining the lower flooring cost.
According to Erickson, polished concrete floors are a better option for the town office in terms of appearance and maintenance and if the town chose to go with Ruggco and not do the slate tile, the bid would drop down to about $756,000.
But at $793,800 with the contingency added in, the project is still $50,000 over budget.
Amadon said that the town could wait until January and put the new town office out to bid again, “but I don’t think it’s going to get much lower,” Martin said.
In hopes of keeping the construction costs down, the town gave the general contractors the option of starting in September instead of immediately and Ruggco’s bid reflects the later start date. That’s OK, “as long as he’s not expecting any additional money for working in winter conditions,” select board member Rae Weston said.
Already, the town has spent about $73,000 on design, engineering and permitting fees for the new town office, which is expected to total about $121,000. According to town administrator, Cheryl Brown, that part of the project is on budget. The money was taken from a reserve fund containing the insurance proceeds from the old town office after it flooded in August of 2011 and it will count toward the town’s match for a $700,000 Vermont Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) it received for the project.
In November of 2013, Moretown voters authorized the select board to borrow up to $40,000 for the construction of the new town office, and “I wouldn’t have a problem asking the voters” to borrow additional money after reviewing the general contractors’ bids, select board member Jason Aronowitz said on Monday. “This is a valid reason for long-term borrowing.”
But moving forward, Gallup and Erickson agreed to revise the bid document to reflect the cost of polished concrete floors for Ruggco’s bid and to go over them again at the board’s next meeting on Monday, June 15.
As far as the other alternates included in the general contractors’ estimates, such as a security chain that would come down over the door and a graphic depicting the water level of the Mad River during Tropical Storm Irene, “Personally, I’m not looking to add anything back in at this point,” Martin said.