County changes stance on increasing contingency fund for Cook County Community YMCA project

After unsuccessfully asking the county board for $70,000 more in contingency funds from the county’s 1 percent recreation and infrastructure sales tax fund one week prior, Cook County Community YMCA Project Manager Wade Cole of ORB Management came back again on September 17, via a Skype session over the Internet to ask the board how they wanted him to proceed.  The project had been slated for completion by the end of December. 

The original contingency fund was set at $568,812, but estimated costs to finish the project would bring it to a deficit of $68,933.56.  The original cost estimate had not included almost $68,000 for Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry oversight the state originally said the project would not need and $70,000 paid to JLG Architects for re-designing some of the work to bring costs down and to The Meyer Group to resolve contract issues related to the re-design.

Taking the requested $70,000 from the 1 percent fund would leave $484,122.69 yet uncommitted.

Commissioner Garry Gamble used the words “uncomfortable” and “frustrating” to describe being asked for more money. 

The estimated final cost of the project keeps changing from week to week as things get done, Project Manager Cole said.  The only cost changes from his request the previous week, he said, was $10,000 in caulking.  He said the extent of the caulking that would be needed was not fully understood by the contractor when cost estimates were made.

Involving the board in individual expenditures would delay the project, Cole said.  “At this point, there’s a lot of activity on site,” he said, with 30-40 workers there every day. 

Commissioner Sue Hakes said, “I just don’t think we should micromanage this to this degree.” 

She made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Bruce Martinson, to authorize taking another $70,000 from the uncommitted 1 percent funds for contingency costs.

Martinson said he understands how delayed a project can be if one of the contractors is held up, which can affect all the other contractors’ schedules.

If they delayed the project, Commissioner Hakes said, they would likely end up using levy dollars to fund losses from not having the YMCA up and running.

The amount being requested is a very small percentage of the overall project, County Attorney Tim Scannell said.  The final cost is projected at $9,567,763.67.  It’s an “exceedingly complex” project, he said, and there’s no way to know exactly what all the costs will be.

Commissioner Hakes pointed out that contingency funds are for unexpected costs.

The motion authorizing $70,000 from the 1 percent fund passed with three ayes from Commissioners Hakes, Martinson, and Jan Hall and two nays from Commissioners Doo-Kirk and Gamble.