The Emmetsburg School Board held a special meeting Wednesday evening to approve construction bids for the West Elementary School addition and renovation project.
Three bids were received with the lowest coming in at 9% over the base bid estimate of $2,752,583. Kolacia Construction, Sande Construction and Woodruff Construction all made offers with Kolacia Construction of Fort Dodge getting the winning base bid of $3,034,000.
Kolacia Construction recommended alternative ways to reduce the overall cost of construction. Those include altering aesthetic elements, eliminating the gym curtain divider and using an alternate temperature control contractor. The suggested alternates would reduce the total contract amount to $2,979,900.
The contractor also offered possible value engineering options that would further reduce the project's cost while maintaining the functionality. If any of the options were approved, the dollar amount saved would be minimal and would be made by change order after the contract is executed.
The board had the option to approve the contract with Kolacia or wait to see how the value engineering items were priced.
"I don't think we're going to get it any cheaper," said board president, B.J. Schany. "I'd like to get this in motion. We might as well give these guys as much time as possible."
Board members expressed disappointment that the bids came in higher than anticipated. "We all wish the bid had been lower," said board member, Rick Brennan. "That's fine. After seeing the cash flows that Matt Gillaspie prepared through Piper Jaffray, I'm much more comfortable after seeing those cash flows. Interest rates are at historic lows. They will not be lower than this. I've talked to a couple contractors and if we wait, costs are going to go up 25-30% in 12 months. I do believe it's the right thing to do for our students and for our district."
Board member, Scott Kibbie, added his concern for the high bids. "I would like to see us wait a week and see if there are other cost saving measures we can take. The numbers look all right but I don't want to be spread too thin. I'm not against the project, I'm against the dollar amount."
"My concern is that if you start cutting all the little stuff, it's not going to end up being exactly what we want," said board member, Karla Anderson. "I'm like Scott, I wish they would have come in lower but if it's what it is, it's what it is. If we put off doing certain things that should be done now, it's only going to cost us more in the end, I'm afraid."
"Over the next eight years, we're going to have a lot of wants and some needs," added Kibbie. "I just don't want us to be so strapped that we have our hands tied."
"We've got cash flows in front of us by a very skilled professional," said Brennan. "Our budget balances are good. If we save some money out of this thing, great, but I think we have to prepare ourselves for the 3 million dollar number. That's what it is. I don't want to see us cut ourselves short to wish we had done something."
"It's extremely rare that we can retire 3 million dollars in eight years," continued Brennan. "We have a unique moment in time to take a massive step forward as a district."
Brennan moved to accept the bid as presented by Kolacia with chosen alternates at $2,979,900. The board passed the motion with a majority vote.