County seeing increase in construction costs

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Price tags grow for two upcoming projects

By Ramsey Scott

Two construction projects on Jeffco’s to-do list apparently will cost substantially more than the county anticipated.

Jefferson County had planned a massive paver repair project for its Administration and Courts Buildings in Golden this year, along with remodeling at the Parfet Building in Lakewood. Yet the bids for both projects are substantially higher than predicted. 

The lowest bid for the Taj Mahal project was $629,255, almost $300,000 more than the county put aside in 2012. The project includes repairing the building’s deteriorating sidewalks and driveways, new landscaping, and installation of security posts along the front entrance. 

Commissioner Don Rosier said the project has been pushed back for about three years and is becoming a safety concern. 

“It’s getting to the point of being a real safety hazard. We do have rebar sticking out of the concrete, we have trip hazards, we have doors that don’t open, so if you’re physically handicapped, it can be very difficult to get in sometimes when those doors aren’t operating,” Rosier said. “It’s one of those (construction projects) that there’s a tipping point. If we wait long enough, we may have a catastrophic failure out there that could cost us much more.”

While bids are still out for the Parfet Building remodeling, the ones received so far are substantially above predictions as well. The remodeling needs to be finished before the county health department can move into the building as planned.

Mark Danner, director of facilities and construction management, said Jeffco isn’t the only county seeing higher-than-anticipated construction costs.

“I wanted to see if (the higher bids) were just a Jefferson County thing,” Danner said. “I’ve confirmed all that with my counterpart in Douglas County. She’s seeing the same — higher bids are coming in well over what they anticipated for and budgeted.” 

Rosier added that there are fewer construction companies now than at the start of the recession, which is another reason costs are rising. 

“There are fewer companies that survived the downturn to bid on projects,” Rosier said. “So there’s an uptick in business, but there’s fewer companies out there to bid on the work.”

Commissioner Faye Griffin said the county is trying to establish a fund for maintenance and equipment repair. One upcoming issue is replacing the Taj Mahal’s HVAC system. Griffin said the current system will last only until 2016 or 2017. 

Griffin said one possible source of funds for the HVAC replacement could come from switching to all-mail elections. The county clerk and recorder’s office is considering a move to end polling-place elections, which could save about $3 million to $5 million that would be spent on new voting machines. 

Contact Ramsey Scott at ramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22 and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine.