Farmington city manager Vince Pastue laid out several alternatives for several downtown Farmington construction projects, after bids came in about $150,000 higher than budgeted.
The package combined streetscaping on Grove from Orchard Street to Grand River, and on Warner from Grand River to Oakland St., with improvements on Oakland Street from Warner west to Grand River. Pastue said the project budget was based on figures gathered when the first phase of the Grand River streetscape was done about five years ago.
"I wanted to make sure we didn't put ourselves in a cash-strapped position," he said, noting dollars are coming out of several different funds.
Pastue's preferred alternative is to "slice and dice" the projects, moving construction on Oakland from Farmington Road west to Grand River into the 2014 construction season if necessary. All of the contractors who submitted bids said they were willing to hold prices steady into the second year, he said.
"We could 'audibilize' as we go along," Pastue said, using a football term that means changing the play at the line of scrimmage. He noted $130,000 in contingency funds are built into the projects, which may or may not be needed.
But council member Greg Cowley opposed splitting the projects. He suggested going back to contractors and asking them to re-submit bids closer to the city's $2 million budget, given significant differences in the cost for materials in each bid.
"It's not a popular discussion, but we're not here to be popular," he said.
Pastue said going back to contractors is not a common practice in government, and consultant Matt Parks of OHM Advisors said giving three contractors the opportunity to find cost-savings will likely result in three different cost-cutting plans.
"You want to make sure you're presenting it the same way with all three of them," he said. "You want to give yourself the best opportunity to compare apples to apples."
Pastue said he and Parks would ask contractors what they would be willing to reduce in costs. Because time is short – the goal is to have a shovel in the ground on April 1 – he said he may call a special meeting to "get things going as soon as possible."