At this week's "Special Board Meeting", several members provided a selective history of the events leading up to a request for a half a million dollar increase in contractor fees for the Beaumont High School Sports Complex. After Board Members De Longchamp and Hackney explained their interpretation of the history to claim a $600,000 savings, I decided everyone needs to know the way I remembered it. By the way, the request was approved by the board by a 3-2 vote. Click here for my detailed account of the vote.
Here’s the history I remember and reported on:
When Measure Z passed, most voters, myself included, weren’t aware the district was planning to use a large portion of the funds to build a multi-million dollar sports complex. We believed issues such as traffic safety around our schools and updating computers for our high school technology department would be addressed.
In 2009, we were told the district was planning a $12 million project. I argued then that the high school needed a new stadium but I believed the scope of the complex project could be scaled back to $8 million. I also asked the board to consider reducing the scope of the Taj Mahal (the new district offices).
The board first officially approved a $15.8 million plan and sent the contract out for bid. After a bidding process and a questionable decision by the board, all the district's construction contracts were awarded to Bogh. Click here to read my February 9, 2010 post on this subject.
Eleven months after Bogh Engineering was awarded the contracts, the district revealed the “Contractor(‘s) Estimated Budget” for the complex was $27.9 million, $12 million over budget. According to the contractor's estimated budget, all four Bogh projects were a total of $20 million over the amount of the "winning" bids.
With the exception of the Taj Mahal, all the projects were sent to committees for "value engineering". The Taj Mahal was "value engineered" by the administration. Large cuts were made to the projects. However, the Taj Mahal looks like it will end up closer to Bogh's estimated budget than the 3 projects sent to committee, no surprise there. Click here to read my January 19, 2011 post on this subject.
After changes were approved, the board accepted a Guaranteed Maximum Price from Bogh for about $15 million. In this week’s special board meeting, while approving a half million dollar increase to Bogh’s GMP, board members Lara, De Longchamp, and Hackney referred to the inflated “Contractor Estimated Budget” and argued they “saved" us $600,000 on the pedestrian foot bridge alone. If I employ their logic, by my calculations, the sports complex project has already cost $3.5 million (and counting) more than the board’s original plan of $12 million. So the board hasn't really "saved" us anything.
It’s no surprise today to hear our politicians and government agencies refer to penalties and revenues as taxes; or claiming reductions in planned spending growth as expenditure cuts; or calling increases in spending as investment. This is why I’m not surprised to hear three board members use an inflated cost estimate to claim that a $3.5 million increase in a project’s over the initial plan is a savings.