Civic Center bids higher than expected

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When the District 777 Board of Education budgeted for improvements to the north end of the Benson Civic Center this past February, it set the expenditure ceiling at $695,600.

At a special school meeting Monday noon in the superintendent’s office, the board reviewed bids opened June 21 that were substantially higher than expected.

Just the base bids ranged from $493,000 to $800,945. However, the base bids came with three additional construction add-ons that raised the price to between $834,100 and $1.125 million. Those alternate bids included adding a gymnastics pit, adding ceiling insulation and protection, and adding fire protection.

But it isn’t just the higher cost that presents a challenge for the school board; it is also the Civic Center’s location in a flood plain. Under state law, the school board can’t spend more than half the value of a building located in a flood plain on improvements.

The Civic Center has a taxable market value of $822,000 limiting any improvements to $411,000. Monday afternoon representatives of the school board and Supt. Dennis Laumeyer were meeting with a commercial appraiser in hopes of getting a new value placed on the building.

Substantial improvements have been made to the building since Swift County Assessor Wayne Knutson last valued it, the school board was told. Those improvements, it is hoped, would bring the value of the building up to closer to $1.2 to $1.5 million. If the value is raised, it could increase the amount the school district can spend on improvements to between $600,000 and $750,000.

However, even with the increased value the school board will have to look at scaling the project back, or finding additional sources of revenue....


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