Bell Buckle’s demands drive up Cascade High water costs

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Bedford County Board of Education learned during its recent monthly meeting that the cost of getting water to the new Cascade High School was driven up by demands made from the Town of Bell Buckle.

“It’s nobody’s fault,” explained architect John Davis of Davis Stokes Collaborative. “My concept ... my civil engineer’s ideas were different than their civil engineer’s ideas.”

Davis said the good news is that the water lines are under construction. He said the construction site, however, is behind because of rain.

Driveway work

Davis said construction crews have been working on the driveways. Sain Construction has not begun the loop which goes around the back of the building, he said.

“I’ve had many jobs that had six months to go and all the site work gets done in the last six months,” said Davis.

County finance director Robert Daniel showed the board the year-to-date figures on the Cascade project, stating the contingency line item is over by several thousand dollars. However, testing which was originally budgeted for $80,000, has offset that overage, coming in lower at $51,035.

“The only real unknown right now is sewer [costs],” said Daniel. “I don’t know what that’s going to come in at ... don’t know.”

Higher costs

Davis predicts that costs could be higher than originally estimated. He said the state has received the sewer plan, looked at some of it, but will still have to test soil.

“They gave us a few comments back,” said Davis, “which doesn’t seem to be a problem. We’ve got to adjust some of the fields ... cells. You pump some of the sewer and put some over here . . . next time put some over there so that you don’t saturate it all at one time.”

Davis said he’s expecting to have sewer approval sometime late March. He said the main issue right now is to get the water on at the school site.

“We are going to get into a heat season before long and they’re going to need that cooling tower,” Davis said.

On the subject of the water, board member Diane Neeley asked Davis, “Did they not give us any pricing in the beginning? I guess I’m trying to figure out how much has changed from when we first talked about this versus where we are now.”

Davis said when initial pricing began a couple of years ago, architects thought they would go onsite with the water. He said he worked through the process, but heavier demands on the water project developed over the last several months.

Changes

The architect, who’s worked on many local school projects, said Bell Buckle’s “wants and needs” involving the waterline drove costs up. He explained that two pumping stations have to be built now, instead of one.

“For some reason I had in my mind originally that we were going on-site,” Neeley said. “Then we got sidetracked with Bell Buckle ... came back. I thought that’s the path we were going, unless I was wrong.”

Davis agreed that the on-site alternative was the first less expensive option on the table. He said there are now forced mains traveling back to Bell Buckle.

“The on-site alternative was less expensive,” agreed Davis. “It was quite a bit additional cost, which I did not anticipate.”

Funds moved

The board approved during this meeting for Daniel to move $5.8 million from its unassigned fund balance to capital outlay in an effort to finish the new school. Daniel said the principal for these funds was $4.5 million and interest amounted to $1.3 million.

The board also committed unassigned fund balances dollars in the amount of $3.5 million for a proposed Learning Way Elementary project. This leaves the board $7 million in its unassigned fund balance — an amount which does not include the state required 3 percent fund balance that has to remain in the reserves, sort of the school’s savings for a “rainy day.” That total is close to $2 million.