Cost of improvement project could cost as much as $1.3 million more than expected, adviser tells board
Paving Silver Beach Road and installing a stormwater retention pond in the Village of Belgium’s industrial park may cost more than $1 million more than expected, officials learned on Monday.
Dave Wagner, the village’s financial adviser from Ehlers & Associates, said the project could cost $3.7 million or more, a far cry from the expected $2.4 million price tag.
“That is unacceptable from what the village has been expecting and can likely afford,” Wagner said at the Village Board meeting.
Some village officials are confident the new price is an overestimate and will likely not approach the $3.7 million mark, Village President Rich Howells said.
“We’re asking our engineer (McMahon Group) to come up with some preliminary numbers on what they think bids might be for the pricier items,” Howells said.
“Hopefully we’ll have those numbers soon and can report back to the board next month.”
Howells added that the $3.7 million estimation includes a “worse case scenario” $500,000 railroad improvement plan, complete with warning lights and gates.
In January, McMahon Group recommended to the Office of the Commissioner of Railroads that the village only replace the current yield signs with stop signs.
A final decision on that portion of the project is expected within the next 45 days.
“We’re thinking that part of it will be more like $125,000,” Howells said.
The stormwater retention pond could also cause the project cost to rise, officials said.
“The pond has to be big enough to cover all of the industrial park businesses,” Dan Birenbaum, director of public works, said. “Right now, if we get two inches of rain, four inches comes off the wastewater plant into the industrial park.”
One option to pare the project cost is to build three-fourths of the pond now and finish it later, Birenbaum said.
Wagner also told the board that funds for the project from the tax-incremental financing district will be far less than expected.
“We’ve basically spent what we can spend ($130,000),” he said.
Wagner recommended last year that the village consider extending the TIF another 10 years.
“That’s not an easy process because going to other taxing bodies and saying you need help for another 10 years is a tough sell,” he said.
Trustee Vickie Boehnlein said she thought the TIF was going to help with “a considerable amount” of the project.
“I think Silver Beach is one of the most important projects we have in the village and I would hate to see it get derailed,” she said. “I thought half or close to half of the project was going to come from the TIF.”
Boehnlein said the village planned to complete Silver Beach Road before the Main Street reconstruction project because of the expected contribution from the TIF.
“Now, it sounds like we don’t have to get this done before Main Street,” she said. “If we have Main Street done and financed, we can then focus on Silver Beach.”
The TIF is expected to close in 2018, officials said, with the money returning to the village by 2023.
Boehnlein added the project cost would have to come down dramatically for the village to continue with it.
“We can’t do $3.5 million any more than we can do $3.7 million,” she said. “If these costs continue to stay this high, we’re not going to be able to do everything we want to on Main Street.”
Trustee Jason Acevedo agreed that the “numbers are too high” and the village needs to work on paring the project cost.
“Main Street has to be our priority,” he said. “I’m not sure we can sharpen $1 million off of this.”
The village agreed to borrow up to $150,000 to complete the engineering work and seek bids on the project to get a better idea of what the project will ultimately cost.
The village has already spent more than $130,000 on engineering and design costs, Wagner said.