The Laramie County Community College Board of Trustees gave approval to spend up to an additional $2.5 million on cost overruns for the new residence hall during a special meeting Tuesday, April 9.
The meeting was held to discuss the project status, projected costs and new location for the new residence hall on the Cheyenne campus.
The original budget was set for $30 million but with the project bids coming back high and the contractor setting the guaranteed maximum price at $36.5 million, some steps had to be taken to get the project back within budget. According to Rick Johnson, vice president for Administration and Finance, many things were taken into consideration when it came time to make the cut backs, but aesthetics and functionality of the 352-bed residence hall were not some of them. All of the changes saved millions, but the school is still waiting to hear back from the contractor on what the final cost estimate may be. Johnson and Schaffer said they were hopeful that the final cost estimate would be lower than $36.5 million. If that number comes back higher than $36.5 million, the trustees asked for another conversation to figure out how to cover any funding shortfalls.
Trustees discussed the possibility of pulling the project if cost overruns became too expensive. Schaffer and Johnson noted that the college has already invested approximately $1.4 million already, which would not be recoverable.
One big change discussed at the board meeting is the location of the residence hall. Originally it was designed to be built on the east side of the current residence halls. Now it will be built to the west side. The reasoning behind the move is $1.25 million worth of savings. Johnson explained that by building to the west, utilities won’t have to be relocated, there is more flat ground so not as many retaining walls will have to be built, and there won’t be a parking lot to demolish first.
After saving the $1.25 million by moving the residence hall, the next move made by President Dr. Joe Schaffer could bring the project back on target. Schaffer asked the Board of Trustees to authorize him spend up to $2.5 million in reserve funds to cover the escalated costs associated with the construction. The vote was taken and it was unanimous in favor to spend up to $2.5 million on cost overruns.
The granting of the $2.5 million for the construction overrun will leave $1.1 million in the reserves that LCCC will use for projects that are still to come, Schaffer said.
The school is planning on breaking ground for the project in the coming weeks and anticipates occupancy for the fall 2020 semester.