SCARBOROUGH — The Town Council on Oct. 18 agreed that rather than scaling back plans, alternative revenue sources should be explored to bridge a $420,000 gap left between the estimated and actual cost of a new public safety building.
Two roadblocks that have impeded the anticipated start date for construction back in August/September were explained by the ad hoc Public Safety Building Committee during the workshop.
The proposed 53,000-square-foot building slated for construction on Route 1 next to the municipal building was last year estimated to cost just over $21.5 million. Last November, voters approved a bond that is not to exceed $19.5 million.
The discrepancy between the two figures will be accounted for by approximately $625,000 set aside in reserve funds and proceeds from the eventual sale of the current public safety building and land near the Oak Hill intersection with Gorham and Black Point roads.
However, bid proposals showed the projected cost would be about $2.8 million over budget due to tariffs, labor shortages and other factors.
In the past few months, the committee has managed to “bridge the budget gap” by almost $2.4 million without compromising the integrity of the building, but are still coming in about $420,000 over budget.
“Thankfully we chose the Construction Management at Risk model of delivery for this project, which is allowing us to negotiate and develop cost-reduction alternatives rather than just rejecting the bid (from Landry/French Construction),” Freeman said in a memo to the council.
Groundbreaking is also about seven weeks behind schedule because the committee has not yet received a permit from the Department of Environmental Protection that was applied for in April and expected by Sept. 1.
Committee Chairman Kevin Freeman said the delay could also add substantial costs “due to the need for winter concrete and other winter work conditions.”
Tom Perkins, of Dirigo Architectural Engineering, said the committee was told by the DEP’s Portland office that Scarborough is one of 30 permit applications in the queue for consideration.
“I’m very frustrated that the DEP has not given the permit to us,” Councilor Jean-Marie Caterina said, suggesting the committee rally support from district representatives to advocate for expedited processing. “It ticks me off that they’re costing us money.”
To accommodate the $420,000 deficit, the committee identified three options: securing other sources of revenue, removing “critical components” from the project’s scope and programming, or reducing the building footprint by 2,500 square feet.
Town Manager Tom Hall said eight critical components were isolated and could be eliminated from the plans, but added their removal may have “consequences.”
Those options, which Perkins said together would equate to about $420,000, would eliminate a “highly-recommended” apparatus bay radiant heat system for drying equipment; an exterior canopy to cover EMS vehicles; a campus sign; interior finishes to dorm rooms; new dispatch consoles; new training room furniture; and reduce locker quantity and the size of a communication tower on the property so it would not accommodate “future cell carriers, which could be a future revenue stream for the town.”
“We’ve cut to the bone as best we can to maintain the integrity of the project,” Perkins said.
Rather than pursuing any of the above options, councilors strongly supported pursuing other funding sources.
Hall said the town could expect to receive about $124,000 from Maine Department of Transportation as reimbursement for building the town sand and salt shed in 1999. He also noted a reimbursement the town could be receiving from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for last year’s October wind storm and unexpected monies from property sales in this year’s budget.
Building plans also include $500,000 in contingency funds, which are amounts that are held in reserve to deal with unforeseen circumstances, but Freeman said it’s “not a smart idea to start an over 20 million project without any contingency.”
Freeman and Hall said they’d keep the council updated as they explore these and other options.
Chairman William Donovan encouraged the committee to come back to the table should they need any more guidance or input down the road.
“I do expect you’ll have some more surprises and this will not be our last time talking about this,” he said. “But we’ll work together.”
A rendering of Scarborough’s proposed new public safety building as viewed from U.S. Route 1, northeast.