Forks Public Works Garage is $1.8 million over Budget

Forks Township Supervisors express outrage over the costs of the new public works garage Thursday and wonder whether construction could be shut down.


's public works garage, now under construction, is $1.8 million over budget, township supervisors reported at their meeting Thursday night.

Finance manager Jim Farley informed the board that the garage, which would centralize public works under one roof – the department currently uses four buildings around the township – said the final projected cost for the building is $4.8 million.

The project had started $1 million over budget because the was $4.75 million, but the township had only budgeted $3.7 million.

But with solicitor fees, plus architectural, engineering and miscellaneous costs, the total will hit about $5.5 million, Farley said.

"At this time, we want to make it known to the public that we have a $1.8 million shortfall," Supervisors Chairman Erik Chuss told the 10 people in the audience. "We need to identify any means of funding to make up for the shortfall."

That enraged new supervisor John O'Neil.

"To miss a figure by nearly $2 million is totally unacceptable," he said. "We were told $3.7 million and it comes in at $5.5 million? We're doing our taxpayers a big injustice."

Supervisor Robert Egolf, who along with Chuss voted against the project, said, "When I think about that building, I don't feel too comfortable."

Supervisors Vice Chairman Dan Martyak wondered whether the project could be shut down.

"I believe we can come up with an alternative plan," Martyak said. "If we can't shut it down, then how do we pay for this problem?"

Chuss said that it's too late to halt construction since all contracts have been signed. Solicitor Karl Kline agreed.

"We were committed once we signed the contracts," Chuss said. "Stopping and restarting could make the cost even higher. It's going to be a beautiful building. The cost is just excessive. But it would be a risk to stop."

After the meeting, Supervisor David Billings, who voted for the project, stated that he had made the best decision he could with the information he had.

"I approved it for $4.8 million, knowing that we might have to borrow $1 million," he said. "Now, I would have voted ‘no.’ It's way too much money and very unfortunate."

What do you think about the cost of Forks Township’s projects? Tell us in comments.

Jim English March 17, 2012 at 05:20 AM
A functional and cosmetically acceptable pole barn type structure would suffice for the intended use as a Public Works garage and you probably could get that built for $50 per square foot x 23000 square feet = $1,115,000. If you even double this figure for concrete work, utilities, and other finishes to complete the building (a stretch), you are at $2,230,000 for a more cost effective solution, which added to the $2 million cancellation fees (probably an exaggerated estimate) is $4,230,000 or approximately a half-million dollars over the $3.7 million dollar building that Supervisors Chuss and Egoff voted for or a half-million less than what Supervisor Billings said he was okay with. I urge everyone to organize against this board and voice opposition as if you don't, you most likely will have a tax increase to pay for this monument to excess. It really doesn’t matter if a Supervisor voted “for” or “against” the Public Works building: what matters is what actions are taken now!!! If the BOS fails to listen to the taxpayers, I suggest the public look to remove the offending Supervisors, either via election or other more expedient means. Please contact me 610-737-4700 or jimboandjeno@coy-english.com if you are interested in coming to the next meeting.
Brett Bonfanti March 17, 2012 at 01:59 PM
I agree that much of the responsibility for this unwanted project goes to the three Supervisors who voted for it. Also, it is so obvious that our former Supervisors did not listen and that Martyak and O'Neil do. However, I would have to disagree in that I think the power of a full room at a public forum is much stronger. I think that Supervisor Billings would have been especially persuadable on this particular topic; his vote of "nay" would have stopped it.
Jim English March 17, 2012 at 03:18 PM
Whether a Supervisor voted "yes" or "no" for this building is immaterial now. Chuss brags to have voted "no" yet at the last BOS meeting he states that there was an opportunity to shut down the project "very early this year" but the goes on to say by the time the new BOS was in place it was too late...NEWSFLASH to Mr. Chuss: the new board was convened on January 3rd, 2012. How much earlier in the year did you require? New Years Eve perhaps? Sounds like its simply an excuse for lack of leadership. By then the cost over runs were suspected and in some cases known. Chuss chose to do nothing when at the January 3rd meeting he had the votes to stop work on the building. I question Mr. Chuss' sincerity when he cast his initial "no" vote as he knew this building had enough favorable votes, including Mr. Billings', to move forward but now refers to the building in such glowing terms as "beautiful" and "very nice". I find both Chuss and Billings to be disingenuous with their comments.
Carrie Bachman March 22, 2012 at 11:26 AM
for those unaware, BOS meetings are on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of every month at 730 pm at the community center. http://my.calendars.net/forks_calendar/
Periscope September 18, 2012 at 11:49 PM
Brett is right. We needed the garage but not this one. Where were all of you when these matters were discussed two years before the first spade hit the ground. Howell and Gioia had their minds made up all the time since inception. It was Billings that tipped the scale and he's still on the board. Now Billings said that if he had known what he knows now he would not have approved it. Even Chuss said the same thing. This construction could have been tabled on their first meeting in January and a new design worked out that cost less. So why wasn't it? I think they all wanted it secretly but afraid to say so with a vote. It is easier now to complain about it than to have done something about it. So those of us who wanted something else just have to live with it. Long and short of it is that you must go to meetings and speak up,


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