Thursday, March 16, 2006
APS Work $500K Over Budget
By Amy Miller
Journal Staff Writer
Albuquerque Public Schools has run nearly $500,000 over budget on renovations to a board meeting room, thanks to several unplanned expenses, school officials said.
"This can happen in any construction situation," said Tom Savage, deputy for district resources.
But the additional dollars have some board members angry. With the extra costs, the district will have spent about $5 million updating its headquarters at City Centre.
"We've already put way too much money in that building," said board member Robert Lucero. "As a board member, I will not vote for anything that approves any kind of increase for City Centre."
Several city departments have notified the district that the 2,150-square-foot John Milne Boardroom, currently under construction, cannot be used until new public restrooms, a handicap access and electrical upgrades are completed, Savage said.
One snag that caught the district off guard was how many bathroom stalls the building must have. APS thought it would need restrooms with only two stalls.
Instead, it must have between six to 12 stalls per restroom, Savage said. Additions like that get expensive quickly.
"But I can understand that we need to be up to code," Savage said. "That's an expectation."
Savage said the district will not dip into its real estate reserve funds to cover the additional expenses.
Instead, it likely will sell its Stronghurst building at Menaul and Second Street, which it had planned to do when it bought City Centre for $12.5 million in 2001. The district will explore other options as well, Savage said.
Lucero said the district should have sold Stronghurst when it bought the building.
"They had a budget plan," Lucero said. "And they should have stuck to it."
One thing the district will not do is take money from any school construction project to pay for the meeting room renovations, Savage said.
If administrators have to delay further renovations at City Centre, or push back the move-in dates for APS departments that haven't relocated to the building, they will.
"Our schools are going to come first," Savage said. "But we're going to get this done."
The room, which will seat 135 people, was supposed to be completed in February.