Last week the signal light at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Hendrickson was completed and switched on, with almost $36,000 in additional costs.
The project was approved in May 2007 for $326,783, with the contract awarded to Lakeside Industries. During the project, however, there occurred five major changes.
1. Relocation of signal poles due to existing utility lines ($6,020)
2. Relocation of signal lines to save a number of trees ($3,765)
3. Relocation of the pedestrian signals utilities ($6,275)
4. Grinding of asphalt ($5,238) and
5. Paving for the above changes ($14,500).
The changes equal $35,798 in additional costs to the city.
According to city manager Bill Elliott, the city eventually will be reimbursed by the developments surrounding the light signal through latecomers agreements, but developers have up to 20 years to reimburse.
I have yet to see many projects where something doesnt come up, said Elliott.
Although the Sequim City Council voted 7-0 to OK the additional costs, Councilman Ken Hays, in particular, was not entirely pleased. Although Hays says he doesnt want to criticize any city staff until he looks at the costs more closely, he does feel that some of them couldve been avoided. As Hays pointed out, the $35,798 is about 10 percent of the projects original budget.
I guess I just feel like the project couldve been planned a little more carefully, said Hays. I just want the city to run as efficiently as possible.
But can the city really design project contracts that reflect the possibility of additional costs, or can estimates at least be cushioned?
According to Public Works director Jim Bay, who calculated the original estimate, he tries to be as specific as possible because contractors will always work up to the estimate, never below.
Elliott says that if the council really wanted to, they could vote to add a clause to each project estimate wherein a project cannot exceed a certain amount under any circumstances.
Bay, however, sees such a measure as leading to bigger problems, such as projects only getting half finished.
You cant do that, Bay said. Not in the real world at least.
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