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Conservation Building Bids Higher Than Expected

Higher than anticipated construction bids have forced the Lee County Conservation Board to consider scaling back its new building.

Conservation Director Tom Buckley said the project was split into four separate bids in the hopes of keeping costs down.

"The general contractor bid was probably in line with what we were expecting, but the electric, plumbing, and heating & air condition were probably 15%-25% higher than what we were expecting," he said.

Buckley said the Conservation Board wanted bids to come in below $650,000 for the entire project, but in the end they were $80,000-$85,000 above that.  He said because of that, the project manager is reviewing the bids and re-examining the designs for potential savings.

"The (Conservation) Board is going to meet again on Tuesday to review that process and to see what -- if anything -- in terms of factoring some parts of the buildings out might happen or reorganizing some of that in a different fashion so we can work to get a majority part of the project done."

Buckley said possible savings could come in the form of having staff do some of the flooring and painting work as opposed to hiring a contractor.

The Conservation Board has secured funding for the project from a variety of sources

  • Up to $510,000 - County-backed bond issue
  • $100,000 - Contribution from Three Rivers Foundation
  • $25,000 - Insurance money from 2014 lightning strike to headquarters
  • $23,000 - Outside contributions

Buckley said additional money will be needed to connect utilities to the new building and to add the educational displays.
"With the money that has been allocated from the (insurance settlement), from the county and (from) the foundation, that money will essentially build the building."

He said meetings are set with local businesses to help fund the educational displays.

Buckley believes the construction bids came in much higher than anticipated because of the volume of large-scale projects underway in southeast Iowa.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.