Tennis Center overages cost city $105K

Council approves payment from city’s contingency fund

With most construction projects, unforeseen expenses pop up. Zephyrhills City Council reluctantly approved more than $105,000 worth of project overruns for the Sarah Vande Berg Tennis Center.

During  the  construction  phase  of  the  $4.9 million SVB  Tennis  Center,  multiple  items and additions  were  made  to  the  project, which caused an increase to the contract amount, by $105,709 or 2.1 percent, according to City Manager Billy Poe’s report to City Council Monday night.

The largest expense was a water connection fee of $46,650. The fee was not included in the Guaranteed Maximum Price for the project. Poe said the contractor believed the fees would be waived because it was a City project.

It may appear that it is the city paying itself the connection fee, but the funds are coming from the city’s contingency fun and being paid to the city’s utilities department. The entire $105,709 will come from the contingency fund that had a healthy balance of $532,842. The change order will drop that balance by 20 percent to $427,133.

“That fee has to be paid. It cannot be waived,” Poe said. “The contractor did not anticipate this. He assumed that the fee would be waived. Unfortunately, it’s the wrong assumption. That would have to be paid.”

An expense of $23,819 to run underground electric lines from Simons Road to the site of the tennis center is set to go to Duke Energy. The fee was not anticipated, therefore not included in the Guaranteed Maximum Price.

Councilman Alan Knight questioned the contractor’s responsibilities.

“First, the $46,000, the contractor didn’t check that out first?” Knight asked. And second, the Duke Energy expense wasn’t anticipated?”

Poe said the line items were there and Knight quickly responded that the city missed it by $70,000.

“It’s done,” Knight said. “Our hands are tied now. We can’t go over and take those all out. “Our contingency fund is down 20 percent.”

Other expenses included in the change order are French Drain South of Courts ($3,800), Upgrade of lift station ($5,350), Rough in for fire alarm ($1,386), Monument sign lighting ($6,849), Pickelball perimeter fence increase to six feet ($7,131), Fans in patio ceiling ($4,640), Gym electrical extras ($4,634) and Awning of gym door ($1,450).

Councilman Charlie Proctor asked who was approving these projects during construction.

“Change orders didn’t flow in like they should have,” Poe explained. “The overages are much higher than what we see in front of us. The cost is being shared by the operator, the city and the contractor. It is probably a third for each.

“I and staff justified the city’s expenses. Either we directed these changes or these were things that had to happen. The first four things had to be done. We had no choice.”

“We all represent constituents,” Knight said. “The public, through our wonderful newspapers, are going to see we’re putting another $105,000 into the tennis center. It’s not good.”

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