Archive for Thursday, May 13, 2004

District questioning construction bills

May 13, 2004

As school district leaders tie up loose ends with the new high school's construction, USD 491 is finding itself in a bind.
The Board of Education directed the district to continue holding about $200,000 in fees from Manning Wilbert Prosser as well as directing the district to set up a joint meeting with the Eudora City Council to discuss electrical hook-up charges.
Eudora USD 491 claims Manning Wilbert Prosser is overcharging the district by about $80,000. The contractors contend the costs are associated with personnel added for the fast-tracking process.
The district argues the extra personnel was someone already hired as a carpentry foreman, meaning the district was being charged for someone pulling double-duty. Moreover, the district argues any fast-tracking was congruent with the contractor's original timeline and therefore shouldn't have resulted in any change in the budget.
Superintendent Marty Kobza told the Board at its May 5 meeting that the district's attorney, John Immel, was looking over information about the situation. Kobza said he didn't have any complaints about the structure's quality or the way in which it was done.
By meeting with the City Council in the near future, the district hopes to resolve another point of contest, the $90,000 the city charged the district to hook up electrical service to the new high school. The district understood the fee to be waived, as is customary between schools and electrical utilities in the area.
Kobza and the Board discussed at a May 5 meeting what could happen if the district were to pay the city what it was charging. That could mean charging the city for use of facilities that in the past been offered free.
"The cost will be passed down to the kids," said Board member Carlie Abel. "You'll see some families squeeze the kids out because it's unaffordable."
The district leaders expressed a desire to continue the air of cooperation that had for the most part dominated the relationship between the city and schools.
"I think somewhere there is a compromise," Kobza said.
Mayor Ron Conner told the Eudora City Council at Monday night's meeting about the district's wish to meet jointly. Conner said the city and school district would look to meet at a time congruent with everyone's schedules before setting a definitve date.

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