Understand the new animal shelter design contract? Good for you. I sure as heck don’t.
Many people have asked me about this: $986,737 to design an animal shelter? That seems a little hefty.
But the county’s 100% company line: This isn’t just design, it’s carrying the whole project through, even while under construction.
“Soup to nuts” is how Commissioner Ruthie Davis Schlabach has described it.
Turns out it’s just soup.
The “nuts” part of this plan is up to another $500,000, according to the very contract that county commissioners approved 3-2 at their April 26 meeting. They would have had to pay attention because the agenda memo doesn’t mention that part of the cost at all.
It says, simply, TOCOI Engineering will design the shelter for $986,737.
The contract differs. It’s right there in the TOCOI Engineering “project scope and fee summary:”
Current budget: $9 million
Design fee: $986,737
Site Construction: $1 million
Construction admin./Construction engineering & Inspection: $500,000.
Turns out the nearly $1 million to design the animal shelter is, after all, $1 million to just design the animal shelter.
It’ll be up to another half-million — I’m told County Administrator Randy Oliver is promising less — to make sure the builder is doing its job, among other duties.
That’s about $1.5 million and we haven’t paid anyone yet to shovel dirt.
Now, before you go all crazy (like I did when I heard about this), let me walk you through it because perspective is significant.
The source of this revelation is Tom Williford, who was county architect at a time the county had so much work going it needed an architect on staff. So he knows a few things.
Williford sent a scathing email to commissioners just whacking this contract up one side and down the other. It covered a lot of ground.
He didn’t understand why the county kept telling the public that the $987,000 was “soup to nuts” when it wasn’t the case.
“The million dollar fee…is just for design. The rest of the contract, Construction Administration and Observation, is another $500,000. It’s there in black and white in the contract. Has everyone actually read the contract? The design is only a portion of the consultant contract, not the entire contract.”
He added: “So, you are willing to pay a company to send an employee to the site…to see what’s going on and do paperwork for the duration of the construction for $500,000.”
I looked up all the county commission meeting minutes, read the contract and he seems spot on.
The county, though, is saying that $500,000 was separate all along and only an estimate, not an actual part of the contract. There certainly is some validity to that.
It doesn’t explain, though, why the county has insisted for the last six weeks that this $987,000 contract was some sort of special super design, that it would save us from spending further up the road as this project progresses into construction. At least, that was the impression I always had.
Before we turn our anger to the helpless caged critters, some perspective please.
Citrus County needs a new animal shelter. This is a really good idea, a spectacular public-private venture that a healthy community strives for. Let’s not lose sight of that. Citizens want a new animal shelter so much they've dug into their own wallets to help pay for it. So this is kind of a big deal to people. Some have worked decades toward this goal. Now is not the time to derail the train.
That said, there’s a disconnect between the county’s explanation of this project and the public’s understanding of it. Someone needs to get a handle on that.
And we all know who.
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