Despite an inflation-driven cost estimate more than $1 million over budget, a split Great Bend City Council Monday night voted to proceed with plans for the new Police Station/Municipal Court Building.
City Administrator Kendal Francis delivered the news of the burgeoning price tag.
“Of course, we’ve been talking about inflation,” he said. “About three weeks ago, we were notified the cost of the project has increased.”
The issue was set as the topic of a work session Monday night. But, it was moved to an agenda item because the council needed to make some quick decisions on how to continue in light of the new estimates.
Alan Youngers of Wichita-based project manager McCown-Gordon Construction presented the information. His firm has the job of developing a guaranteed maximum price for the project.
“This is a snapshot in time of what we would anticipate this project to cost if you were to go out for bids today,” he said. “This is not binding. This is not the guaranteed maximum price.”
As originally envisioned, the new structure would cost an estimated total of $7.6 million and consist of a 20,000-square-foot facility at 12th and Baker on what is now a city parking lot. A .10% city sales tax to help pay off the project bonds was approved in the Nov. 2, 2021, general election.
The estimated construction cost was in the neighborhood of $6.3 million, with the city having about $1.5 million set aside for the project. The bonds will fund about $5.4 million.
However, now the construction cost estimate is around $8.3 million with the total cost coming in at $9.1 million. That is about $1.4 million over the first projections, Youngers said.
And, “prices are increasing at a growing rate,” he said.
Youngers ticked through the city’s wish list for the new building. He recommended some possible cuts that would shave the price, most of which wouldn’t make a serious dent.
But, he did suggest removing the Municipal Court from the project. This would eliminate 34,000 square feet and save $1.2 million.
“Reducing the size of the facility is the easiest way to save dollars,” said Paul Michell from the project architectural firm GLMV of Wichita. “This gets us close.”
However, the building would still be around $400,000 over budget. And, “we as designers feel there is a lot of synergy for keeping them together.”
It was mentioned keeping the court in the existing location until another site, possibly a new city hall should that materialize in the future.
“This is your project,” Michell said. “You have some decisions to make.”
All or nothing
“I guess I just wanted to have two options for you guys,” Mayor Cody Schmidt said. “When we were hit with those numbers, we were kind of star struck because, unfortunately, like these guys said, that’s the nature of the beast.”
The could keep shaving features, he said. But, “before long you didn’t have a building worth building.”
Ward 1 Councilman Alan Moeder moved to proceed with the design to include the court. It passed 6-2 with Ward 1 Councilwoman Linsdsey Krom-Craven and Ward 4 Councilwoman Natalie Towns voting against it.
“Everybody does realize that puts us a million dollars behind leaving that courtroom building in there,” Towns said. She suggested postponing a decision on the court.
But, most on the council said it was all or nothing and the cost was going to go nowhere but up.
The decision made Monday night is only to continue with the design. It didn’t set the maximum price for the project.