Wesley Chapel town hall bids too expensive

WESLEY CHAPEL – Progress with the Wesley Chapel town hall reached a temporary standstill Tuesday as all seven bids for construction came in over budget.
The village recently began
collecting bids for the construction of its first town hall, and after the process was closed and the council reviewed the bids, they found the lowest was almost $280,000 more than the amount reserved for the project.
Throughout the course of planning for a town hall, council members have maintained a strict philosophy of avoiding going into debt or raising taxes by sticking to an amount they know the village can afford.
In attempts to maintain the lowest cost possible, the council made changes to the plans, including a less expensive roof, opting to use painted woodwork instead of stained woodwork and going with a cheaper alternative to natural stone.
But after the changes were made, the lowest bid, which came from Morlando Construction, was $1,353,776 – considerably higher than the $1,074,321 the town has budgeted for the project. The council doesn’t want to go that much over budget, so representatives are meeting with Morlando Construction on Friday to discuss options that could bring the cost down.
“Even with the decreases, the lowest bid was $279,455 higher than our budget, so we are in the process of going to meet with the lowest bidder … to see if we can make other changes to the base cost without affecting the look and feel of the building, so we can keep the basic components of the building in tact,” Mayor Brad Horvath said.
Some of the options the village would consider, Horvath said, are scaling down the lighting and adjusting the site work, although no plans to do either are set in stone. “We’ve kind of beat to death what are our needs versus wants,” Horvath said. “We’ve pretty much got it down to needs, so it’s just a matter of being just a little bit pickier.”
Depending on how far they can bring down the cost, Horvath said the council may consider using some additional town funds to cover the project if the bid is still over budget.
“We have to look at the park project and town hall project out of existing funds,” Horvath said. “We’re not going into any debt or raising taxes. We have to keep a balance in our general reserve, but I think there is some wiggle room, depending on how much difference (between the village budget and the bid), surely.”
If the bids continue to come in too high, Horvath said the town might have to rebid the project, which would further delay the town
hall’s construction. “But I don’t want to do that if we don’t have to,” he said.
The town hall will be a 6,700-square-foot building that includes a main council chamber, meeting rooms, office space, a kitchen and a reception area to greet visitors.
The project also includes space for parking and will be constructed on 6 acres donated to the village by Aston Properties.
If things move smoothly after bid negotiations, Horvath said construction should start by Nov. 1.
Morlando Construction estimated the entire project would take about eight months to complete, which would aim for a target completion date in late June 2013. “I’m hopeful that we can come to an agreement,” Horvath said.
He expects the village to hold a groundbreaking ceremony sometime in October, although no official date is set at this time.

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