A Franklin County Health Department remodeling project has run over budget, according to County Auditor Tammy Vemmer.
She said the county budgeted $516,262 for the project this year, and so far the county has spent $14,561 over that amount.
And the amount that the project is over budget is expected to keep rising as the county pays the remaining bills for the work.
As of Tuesday, the county still had to pay $54,516 to contractors who worked on the renovation, said Chief Deputy County Clerk Kathy Hardeman.
Once the remaining bills are paid, the project could be over budget by about $69,000.
And that does not even take into account the $11,866 in costs to move the health department from its former location to the new one.
The project has involved remodeling the former county prosecutor’s office on East Main Street in Union for the new health department.
The health department opened in its new location at 414 E. Main St. this week.
Some county officials dispute the amount of money that the project is over budget.
County Counselor Mark Vincent last month said the newspaper has confused the construction costs with the overall project costs, which, he said, include design, data wiring, signage and other work.
“When you talk about projects there is the construction costs and the project costs,” Vincent said.
He said the newspaper has portrayed the overall budget for the project as being less than it actually was, therefore making it appear that the county was significantly over budget.
“That was totally wrong,” Vincent said. “That was just the construction budget.”
But Vemmer said there was not a separate budget for “project” costs and a separate budget for “construction” costs. She said the only money budgeted for the project this year was the $516,262, and that was for all of the renovation costs.
Vemmer said she emailed Second District Commissioner Mike Schatz this week to see what he wanted to do about the overage amount. Schatz is the commissioner who has been overseeing the project.
He did not return a phone call from The Missourian this week seeking comment on the project being over budget.
It is possible that the overage could be covered out of the county building fund, which has about $4.5 million, Vemmer said.
Originally, $500,000 was budgeted for the renovation this year, but then the budget was amended to add another $16,262, Vemmer explained.
The original budget states that within the county building fund “$500,000 has been budgeted to renovate the previous prosecuting attorney’s building for the new health department facility.”
But Vincent said county officials knew all along that the total project costs would come to around $600,000.
The construction costs for the project only included the amount paid to Jasper Development of Union and Keeven Heating & Cooling of New Haven, Vincent said.
The construction costs did not include other costs associated with the project such as phone and computer wiring and design fees, Vincent asserted.
“We knew from the beginning the design costs were not part of the construction costs, the signage was not part of the construction costs, the voice and data cabling was not part of the construction costs. Those were part of the project costs.”
At a county commission meeting last month, Schatz said the heating and air conditioning was not part of the original construction costs either.
“The original construction costs did not include HVAC,” Schatz said, noting that the initial plan was to reuse the systems that were already in the building.
He added, “That was an added cost that technically threw us over” but said it was well worth it.
Vincent originally said the HVAC costs were included in the “construction” costs. But then Vincent agreed with Schatz that HVAC was not part of the construction costs.
Officials say the health department remodel was needed to provide more space and get the county out of a rented building and into a county-owned facility.
Over the life of the building, Vincent said the county will save money by remodeling the building instead of continuing to pay rent, which had cost the county $1,600 a month.
Presiding County Commissioner John Griesheimer also noted that a big problem with the old building was that it was not handicap accessible.
There were electrical problems with the former building too, Griesheimer said, adding that the breaker had to be flipped to turn on the lights.
The new building is a “win-win” for the health department and should provide the needed space for “many years to come,” Griesheimer said.
Moreover, the amount of change orders that came up during the remodel project were very minimal. This is a credit to the contractors on the job, Vincent said.