BRACEBRIDGE - Council is finding it a bit tough to swallow an engineering firm’s quote for its role in restoring the Woodchester Villa.
In the end, councillors approved the added costs for phase one of the project. But with the backing of Coun. Lori-Lynn Giaschi-Pacini, Coun. Mark Quemby successfully pushed through a motion to defer approval of the phase two costs until more detailed information can be gathered
Eyebrows were raised among councillors during a general committee meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 11, when Rochon Engineering — the contractor hired by the town in 2010 to assess the historical building — tabled a report detailing costs that were higher than previously predicted. The company had originally estimated it would cost a total of about $59,000 for the work, which is divided into two phases. But it is now asking for about an additional $85,000 on top of that.
Most of that extra cost comes from the second phase of the project — the stage at which contract administration and site review work will take place during construction. That phase was first estimated to cost about $25,000, but an updated estimate tabled this week puts the cost at about $77,000, a difference of about $52,000.
That cost includes mileage expenses for site review work on a variety of issues, including grading verification, mould remediation and concrete repair. The town would be billed $0.75 per kilometre, on top of a $190 per hour rate.
For Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith, those costs are far too high.
“Quite frankly (it’s) offensive for a councillor to look at a mileage rate like that coupled with an hourly rate and say ‘that’s OK, because that’s the way the industry does it’… it’s not OK, because we’re paying the bill,” he said.
He noted that by comparison, Bracebridge councillors only get about $0.40 per kilometre as mileage reimbursement.
“When they’re charging time in the car, being in the car at $190 an hour, and then double our mileage rate, and I consider the town rate fair, it starts to get to be a bit much to take,” he said.
His concerns were echoed by Coun. Mark Quemby.
“If this cost is accepted, I just want to make sure that staff who are negotiating with Rochon understand that the Town of Bracebridge is not going to pay any extras beyond this,” he said. “They shouldn’t being coming to us looking for any more money if we’re going to spend this much money on a review of the building — I think that needs to be clear to them.”
Coun. Barb McMurray said she wants a more detailed breakdown on the mileage issue before council proceeds any further with the contractor.
“I’m not prepared to go forward with Rochon unless they can come up with some more accurate descriptions as to why they’re charging these amounts, and plus charging us for an hourly rate on top of it,” she said. “I’m not prepared to deal with them under those situations.”
The first phase of the project — where site investigation work, design work and the drawing, specification and tender document preparation is done — was originally estimated to cost about $34,500. However, Rochon Engineering is now saying more money is needed.
“We estimate that an additional $32,750 plus HST will be required to finish the drawings, specifications and tender documents,” Rochon consulting engineer Barry Kozluk wrote in a letter to Bracebridge treasurer Carol Wakefield. “Please note that this additional fee does not include design work associated with the barrier-free access, the emergency lighting and fire hydrant installation.”
Bracebridge CAO John Sisson said the issue of minimizing costs will be further discussed. However, he said the mileage quotes from Rochon are in line with contracts the town has with other contractors.
“I don’t believe the mileage rates they’re quoting with us are inconsistent with what we would be seeing in other contractors that are coming to the town,” he said.
“The rate that (councillors) use for town mileage is just simply consistently under the contract cost that we would be receiving from contractors on any other number of projects that we have.”
In the end, councillors approved the added costs for phase one of the project. But with the backing of Coun. Lori-Lynn Giaschi-Pacini, Coun. Mark Quemby successfully pushed through a motion to defer approval of the phase two costs until more detailed information can be gathered.
The issue will go before council for final approval.