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Bemidji City Council hears explanation of BREC budget error; Overall fixtures costs expected to be under budget

The bottom line, Andy Long said, is that the budget for the furniture needs for the Bemidji Regional Event Center should remain under budget.

Long, the regional vice president for VenuWorks, detailed a BREC budgeting error to the Bemidji City Council Monday night.

Some BREC seating, including the east end riser system that would provide student seating, was under budgeted in the facility's furniture, fixtures and equipment budget.

The total budgeted amount for the risers, platforms that meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, in-fill platforms and spotlight platforms was $75,000, but Long has since learned they could cost between $190,000 and $350,000.

Long owned up to the mistake and took full responsibility for the oversight.

"I don't want to sit here and give you excuses, because, yes, I missed this," he said.

But, he said, the problem must be fixed.

"You've got to have that students' section, that seating system in place," Long said.

The overall FF&E budget is more than $317,000 under budget.

Long explained the complexities of the factors that led to the budgeting error, essentially saying that in similar building projects, such seating needs are often included in the overall construction budget.

"The structures come at you in different ways," he said.

No action was taken by the council. VenuWorks will begin to solicit bids on seating options to address the problem.

"This is a big whoops," said Councilor Greg Negard, who wondered what VenuWorks would do if one of its employees caused a $200,000 error.

Long said any mistakes are hard to deal with, but that he would appreciate an employee who went directly to his managers with the problem rather than try to hide it.

"Trust me, I don't want to be here," he said.

Councilor Kevin Waldhausen noted that the BREC is set to open in about 90 days. He questioned if this could impact the timeline of the building or whether the city would have to settle for a less-than-ideal solution.

"Time is of the essence right now," Long agreed.

But, he said, he would not advocate for any solution that would not be workable for those who have to operate the facility and change it over from hosting a hockey game one night and a concert the next.

"There are solutions ... but we want to make sure we get the right solution," he said. "I don't want to be here two years from now having to explain why our changeover costs are so high."

Y bwesley@bemidjipioneer.com

The bottom line, Andy Long said, is that the budget for the furniture needs for the Bemidji Regional Event Center should remain under budget.

Long, the regional vice president for VenuWorks, detailed a BREC budgeting error to the Bemidji City Council Monday night.

Some BREC seating, including the east end riser system that would provide student seating, was under budgeted in the facility's furniture, fixtures and equipment budget.

The total budgeted amount for the risers, platforms that meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, in-fill platforms and spotlight platforms was $75,000, but Long has since learned they could cost between $190,000 and $350,000.

Long owned up to the mistake and took full responsibility for the oversight.

"I don't want to sit here and give you excuses, because, yes, I missed this," he said.

But, he said, the problem must be fixed.

"You've got to have that students' section, that seating system in place," Long said.

The overall FF&E budget is more than $317,000 under budget.

Long explained the complexities of the factors that led to the budgeting error, essentially saying that in similar building projects, such seating needs are often included in the overall construction budget.

"The structures come at you in different ways," he said.

No action was taken by the council. VenuWorks will begin to solicit bids on seating options to address the problem.

"This is a big whoops," said Councilor Greg Negard, who wondered what VenuWorks would do if one of its employees caused a $200,000 error.

Long said any mistakes are hard to deal with, but that he would appreciate an employee who went directly to his managers with the problem rather than try to hide it.

"Trust me, I don't want to be here," he said.

Councilor Kevin Waldhausen noted that the BREC is set to open in about 90 days. He questioned if this could impact the timeline of the building or whether the city would have to settle for a less-than-ideal solution.

"Time is of the essence right now," Long agreed.

But, he said, he would not advocate for any solution that would not be workable for those who have to operate the facility and change it over from hosting a hockey game one night and a concert the next.

"There are solutions ... but we want to make sure we get the right solution," he said. "I don't want to be here two years from now having to explain why our changeover costs are so high."

bwesley@bemidjipioneer.com

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