Wood BOE requests bond project budgets

Adam Krason with the architectural and engineering firm ZMM gives a facilities bond project update at Tuesday’s Wood County Board of Education meeting. Officials say they are concerned budget numbers between ZMM and Wood County Schools are inconsistent and want a better accounting of individual projects and the overall bond. (Photo by Michael Erb)

PARKERSBURG — Project managers say Wood County Schools bond projects are on time and mostly under budget, but district officials disagree with the company on the exact budget numbers.

Adam Krason with CMM, the board architectural and engineering consultant, gave an update at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, including budget numbers for the bond as a whole.

The district’s $46.1 million bond call includes construction of a new elementary school in Williamstown, expansion of Williamstown High School, renovation and expansion of the Wood County Technical Center and roof replacements throughout the district.

“We’re tracking good on the overall budget for the bond, we’re tracking good on the schedules for having everything available for the upcoming academic year and we’re excited to get these finished and opened up for you guys,” Krason said.

While two of the projects — Williamstown High and the Wood County Technical Center — are over their individual budgets, Krason said officials continue to look at cost-saving measures and “we are about $450,000 under budget for the total bond issue.”

Board member Justin Raber asked Finance Director Whitni Kines whether the numbers presented by ZMM were accurate.

“How are these jiving with the actual dollars and cents you’re in charge of?” Raber said.

“My concern is trying to show the contingency not within each individual project, because there are so many things not in the project … that are being pushed off for later,” she said. “I think its giving us a false sense of where we are actually in the project.”

It was not clear specifically how Kines’ numbers differed from the ones presented Tuesday evening. Kines did take issue with Krason saying three roofing projects had not been completed.

“It’s actually four,” she said, referring to partial work at Van Devender Middle School. Officials said full roof replacement for the school would have cost more than $1 million.

“We don’t know if we need to finish that work yet or not,” Kines said.

The school system also has to build an enclosed connector between Parkersburg South High School and the technical center. That piece was included in the bond call but was left out of a needs document sent to and approved by the State School Building Authority, and was not included in the current project.

“It will be bid separately. At this point it looks like there is going to be enough money left in the bond to finish that piece of work too,” Krason said.

Krason also said all of the projects were past the point where unexpected costs may arise.

“All these projects at this point, they are out of the ground, the structures are in place,” he said. “Any modifications at this point will likely just be things that you’d like to see implemented as we wrap up the projects.”

“Are you confident in these numbers that are being presented to us tonight?” Raber asked Kines.

“I have my own set of numbers that I use,” Kines said.

“If we’re having issues and there are questions about what is going on, I want to make sure my public knows where we’re at, because I don’t want smoke and mirrors,” Raber said. “If our numbers aren’t jiving with this, I’m going to trust our numbers because you (Kines) are the one writing the checks.”

Krason said when discrepancies arise or questions are asked, ZMM officials address those concerns.

“Actually Mr. Krason I have not gotten feedback. I’ve requested specific items and I’ve not gotten any response,” Kines said.

Krason said officials would meet with Kines and Hosaflook to address any possible issues and to reconcile the budget numbers.

“There are certainly no smoke and mirrors intended here,” Krason said. “Were presented what we understand are all the numbers we have. They’re the numbers that have been bid, they are publicly available. We are combining the contingencies, but we’re accounting for that.

“We’re confident in our numbers.”