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Extra funds requested after Vienna police station construction exceeds budget

Rendering of new Vienna police station (via Town of Vienna)

The Vienna Town Council approved increasing a contract yesterday (Monday) for construction on the police department’s new station.

The council agreed to allow up to $67,680 more in response to a “pre-construction design phase that took longer than expected and several unknown condition incidents that arose during construction,” according to a board item.

In January 2019, the town council approved a nearly $304,000 contract with construction management firm Downey & Scott with a 5% contingency of just over $15,000.

The firm reported that it had $64,456.24 in additional expenses. It broke down the costs in terms of staff pay, which ranges from $98.73 per hour for a construction inspector to $135 an hour for project executive Bill Downey.

It wasn’t immediately clear why the town council awarded over $3,000 more than what the company documented. A message seeking clarification from the Town of Vienna wasn’t immediately returned. A town official later wrote that the additional amount is a 5% contingency, allowing the town to address “additional unforeseen circumstances that arise in the construction process without having to go back to Council for approval.”

Police Chief Jim Morris said the increases were due to a soil issue, a gas line, and challenges on Center Street that he described them as unforeseen issues.

“All of those took Downey & Scott expertise and time to rectify,” Morris said. “Whether it be meeting with utilities, meeting with town council, meeting with town manager, they were heavily involved in rectifying those situations for us, on the town’s behalf.”

Downey said many of the changes were related to unforeseen soil conditions as well as relocating unmarked utilities.

A letter from the company said that over $30,000 of the increased expenses came from staff costs for Downey and project manager Kevin Fallin after requested changes from Vienna officials and COVID-19 disruptions added eight months to the project’s pre-construction phase.

The firm also reported $34,000 in staffing costs, plus $627 in mileage reimbursement, that were related to the re-alignment of a storm sewer at Center Street, design management, and other costs for a gas line relocation and soil issues.

Morris said the additional expenses could be paid with unused money in a 2018 capital improvement plan.

Prior to the funding approval, the project had $708,000 left in the town’s $1.1 million contingency fund, Fallin told the town council.

“Vertical construction is well underway, so a lot of the unknown conditions that we might typically encouter, we have surpassed that in terms of construction,” Fallin said regarding his confidence that the budget will stay within the contingency. “We feel good about where we are currently.”

Morris noted that contractors are currently calculating cost estimates for a proposed solar canopy and electric vehicle charging infrastructure, which could both be implemented as part of the project or as subsequent tasks.

Construction on the new police station at 215 Center Street South began in early 2021.

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