Florida Keys News
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
'Time, $' wasted on bids
Johnston: Sexton house plan costly

City staff wasted time and money by failing to deliver a reasonable budget to build a new sexton house for the cemetery, Commissioner Teri Johnston said Tuesday night.

Commissioners unanimously agreed to reject all three bids that came in, as none were close to the original estimate of about $370,000.

They had no choice but to throw in the towel and direct city staff to go back to square one on the project, an 875-square foot, 1.5 story building to replace the 50-year-old sexton house.

The lowest base bid was $532,000 from D.L. Porter of Sarasota, which breaks down to $551 per square foot. The other two bids came in at well over $610,000.

"The city is not an open wallet," Johnston said. "We have a budget."

Mayor Craig Cates said: "I totally agree with you."

Johnston said it was "unbelievable" the bids came in so overbudget and suggested staffers learn from the mistakes.

"We have an idea how much we can spend for a building with taxpayer money," she said. "That number should be generated to the architect."

Johnston suggested that the project's cost inflated as the plans passed from department to department at City Hall, with each one raising the costs.

If that's the cause, she said, then each department "should have to quantify the price" added upon review.

In a memo sent to City Manager Bob Vitas, special projects designer Karen Olson said the city couldn't justify spending more than $370,000 and that the plans could be changed in order to yield a proper bid from contractors.

A new sexton house will add a dignified presence to the historic cemetery, City Planner Don Craig has said.

gfilosa@keysnews.com

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