As contestants on one television game show sometimes say, the Le Mars City Council on Tuesday said "that's too much!"
The council continued a public hearing for the Le Mars Community Aquatic Center renovation on the former Westmar campus.
Architect/engineer estimates for the aquatic center are $1,689,485 but lowest bids so far total $2,617,975.
"The overall project (bids) are certainly over budget," city administrator/engineer Scott Langel said.
The city sought bids on five separate areas of the project. Lowest bids received on each (engineer's estimate in parenthesis) were electrical $146,000 ($111,750), plumbing $153,589 ($77,300), heating, ventilation and air conditioning $299,441 ($157,400), pool and pool equipment $1,470,945 ($679,450) and general construction $548,000 ($663,595).
Ron Mielke of TSP engineering and architectural firm told council members "the city doesn't have the funds to consider awarding the project" as it is now. He said he would like to sit down with city staff to look at options for the project since bids are good for 30 days. They were opened last week.
Langel said he supported the idea.
"Let's put it back on the agenda for the second meeting in November for an up or down vote. We can't accept it all but is any of it acceptable?"
Roberta Kass, Le Mars Park and Recreation Board chairman, was in the audience and asked if it is likely or possible that more acceptable bids could be found.
Mielke said the challenge is uncertainty in the construction industry, which is anticipating 10- to 15-percent price hikes by early 2006.
Tom Mitchell of Le Mars said people who take part in aquacising classes need facilities that are not now available in Le Mars and "implored" the council to look closely at the issue.
Mike Donlin, Floyd Valley Hospital administrator, said the hospital has an interest because they were hoping to include a therapeutic pool at the aquatic center.
Donna Ruhland, city recreation director, said consideration may need to be given to raising more funds to complete the aquatic center project since it is the only Community Betterment Project that serves residents of all ages.
Langel said continuing the hearing would allow the council to consider "if there is anything that can be salvaged from these bids."
Council member Ken Nelson said he hopes residents understand the council is not trying to eliminate the aquatic center project.
"We're not looking to ax the project. We have to stay within the budget so we're limited to what we can do."
Construction on the aquatic center project was scheduled to begin on or before November 2005 with end of construction no later than September 2006.
The aquatic center project will be funded entirely through Community Betterment Project funds. Some of that funding is through a CAT grant. In January, council members indicated that if the grant was only partially funded (as it was), the project budget would be adjusted accordingly and a smaller project would be built.