The cost for the new Ivy Fire Station in Albemarle County is dramatically higher than originally planned, spurring a discussion Wednesday about supervisors’ role when capital project expenses run high.
Scheduled for a grand opening in October, the total cost now is $2.2 million for the 5,800-square-foot station adjacent to the University of Virginia Medical Center’s Northridge complex.
“I remember this originally started out as a $1-million project before we did any architectural work,” said Supervisor Kenneth C. Boyd. “Now it’s [more than] $2 million.”
County staffers do not act outside of the guidance of supervisors, said Trevor Henry, the county’s facilities development director.
“What is in our baseline budget is what is approved via the capital improvement program,” Henry said. “If we think our budget is going to be exceeded, we come back to the board to get approval.”
Henry said the budget estimate was $1.65 million, but construction costs will come in at $1.55 million, meaning the project is under budget.
County Executive Thomas Foley said many capital projects increase in cost because they originate from citizen groups.
For instance, the Seminole Trail Volunteer Fire Department approached the county about partnering on an expansion of its facility on Berkmar Drive. The project now is expected to cost $3.8 million, but originally was projected to be cheaper.
“We are alarmed sometimes if a community group comes and says they can do something for $1 million, and we go and work with them and realize there were things they didn’t realize they had to be done,” Foley said.
Henry said the lowest bid for the Seminole Trail project came in $400,000 over budget.
“We spent a two-month period with the low bidder to take a hard look at the design to see why the bids came in as high as they did,” Henry said.
Another project supervisors are watching is the new Northside Library, which will be housed in an existing building on Rio Road. Earlier this year, supervisors agreed to spend about $11 million to purchase the property, and Boyd said he did not want to see the project’s cost increase.
Henry said there is “great schedule urgency” to get the renovation work started because leases for storage facilities and the existing Northside Library will expire late next year. He said he would return to the board with more details in September.
The board voted unanimously to direct staff to find an additional $300,000 for the new InSync traffic system set to be implemented later this year.
State money is covering part of the cost of the $1.3-million project. Rooker said staff did not seek enough money to cover the full cost.
“The system is basically ready to go,” Rooker said. “I don’t think we want to hold this project up when it’s al-ready approved.”
The system is designed to enhance the coordination of traffic signals from Hydraulic Road to Airport Road on U.S. 29, as well as side streets. No activation date set has been set.