A few hours ago, I got off the phone with a Calcasieu Parish Police Juror who said he saw something on KPLC.com about the Police Jury committing $50,000 to help defray some unexpected expenses for a project at Prien Lake Elementary. The project will help to alleviate some of the traffic problems. I explained to him that there were some issues with the language of the original bid involving tree removals and dirt work, and a change order was submitted for the increased work. I told him that the Police Juror, Dennis Scott, had spoken to the school board and gave a verbal commitment to contribute $50,000. To that, he replied, “We didn’t vote on that!”
He went on to ask me some questions about the Prien Lake Elementary project, and I answered what I could, based on what was said at the school board meeting. The main thing I got out of the discussion in the board meeting was that even if the change orders were approved, the project would still be under what the board had budgeted for the meeting. He asked if these change orders are common practice on projects, and I explained that they do come up often, but I wasn’t sure how often. So, here I am, staying up way too late, looking for the answers to some of his questions. This is what I found.
In September of 2016, the school board granted permission to advertise for bids to construct a diversion road around Prien Lake Elementary and bids for a canopy over the student drop off area.
In October of 2016, BG Lake Charles Operations, LLC donated $200,000 to offset the cost of the project. The cost had not yet been determined, but the school board authorized the superintendent to enter into a cooperative agreement with the donor.
In November of 2016, the bid for the canopy was awarded to Gunter Construction for $138,000, and the bid for the diversion road was awarded to Pat Williams Construction for $251,000.In February 2017, Gunter Construction submitted a change order on the canopy for $8395.00 above the original bid of $138,000. Tonight, at the March meeting, Pat Williams Construction submitted a change order for $231,676.00 above the original bid. The original cost for the project was $389,000 (combining the two bids) with the donation covering $200,000; leaving $189,000 for CPSB to cover. With both change orders approved, less the donation, CPSB’s total cost, now, is $429,071. That’s a whopping 225% of the original cost. It still isn’t clear what caused this increase, or where the fault lies, but generally, contractors are bonded for mistakes like this. It isn’t likely that it is the contractor’s fault. If it were, they wouldn’t be asking for a change order. Below is a list of all of the change orders approved by the school board since April 2014. Notice the change order to decrease the Sulphur Stadium Improvements for -$286,330.10 in October 2014. That original bid was $7,583,300.00. I’m not sure why the contractor gave up 3.8% of his bid, but in October 2015, he came back and asked for $33,146.70 more.