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Bemidji City Council: Negard watching costs for BREC

Construction of the Bemidji Regional Event Center is running just about on time, but Bemidji City Councilor Greg Negard is concerned the costs are running over budget.

"I'm starting to get worried," Negard said Monday during the regular City Council meeting.

Gerry Domino, senior project manager with Kraus-Anderson, said about $2.54 million remains in the BREC's contingency fund.

Negard said the project started out with a $4.8 million contingency fund that has consistently dwindled due to change orders.

"And we haven't even talked about scoreboards," he said.

The main scoreboard is expected to cost about $1 million.

Negard asked Domino about the change orders, wondering why so many orders were even necessary. Monday's collection of change orders, which were approved, totaled about $57,000.

"Weren't we looking at this in the beginning?" he said.

Domino said he spends about three-fourths of his work week looking at change order requests, pricing them out and trying to come up with low-cost options.

"I go through these with a fine-toothed comb," he said, adding that several change orders will result in longer-lasting fixtures and materials, which will benefit the city long-term.

Kraus-Anderson is the construction manager for the project.

"Obviously, we're doing at Kraus-Anderson everything we can do to keep the price in line for the city," Domino said.

Councilor Roger Hellquist pointed out that Kraus-Anderson does not benefit from a higher-priced project.

"Kraus does not profit from change orders," Hellquist said.

Councilor Ron Johnson said contingency funds exist for the sole purpose of covering changes needed to ensure a project's success.

"You can't possibly think of everything," he said. "Things do change as you go along."