The construction cost for the North County Fire Protection District to replace Station 5 in Bonsall will be higher than the district budgeted and estimated, so fire district staff will investigate financing options to allow full funding of the new fire station.
NCFPD deputy fire chief Ed Sprague addressed the district’s board June 25, although the presentation was a discussion item rather than a voting action. “It was more of an information item to get direction from the board to staff,” Sprague said.
The board directed NCFPD staff to research funding options and return to the board with findings. The board was asked whether the district should seek the additional financing or delay the project until additional funds would be available. “The board’s direction was to pursue opportunities or research opportunities for some additional financing,” Sprague said.
Station 5 is NCFPD’s Bonsall fire station. It is currently located near Bonsall Elementary School, and the new station will be built near the intersection of State Route 76 and Olive Hill Road.
The fire district had previously approved a design and construction management services contract with an architectural firm. School districts are exempt from local land use jurisdiction but fire districts, water districts, and other local government agencies are subject to the county process. The North County Fire Protection District began the permit process with the county in early 2010, when construction costs were lower due to economic conditions. “That was several years ago when we started the process,” Sprague said.
The permitting process took more than three years, and construction costs have increased during that time. “The cost of Station 5 exceeded the initial estimates that were done,” Sprague said. “The cost of the facility is much greater than anticipated.”
The architectural consultant provided an estimate of approximately $3.5 million, although that was based on construction beginning in 2010. “It’s quite a bit higher,” Sprague said.
The fire district sent a request for proposals and received six bids which were opened June 19. The lowest base bid was $4,662,000 and the highest was $4,967,000. When optional items were added the bids ranged from $4,700,464 to $4,997,800. “They’re all by reputable contractors,” Sprague said of the bids.
Sprague added that the small range between the lowest and highest bids also indicated that the district would likely be unable to build the fire station at a lower cost. “One of the key drivers right now is the cost of materials,” Sprague said.
The lack of a contact award June 25 does not force a new bidding process. “All of the bids from the contractors are good for 90 days,” Sprague said. “You can exercise any one of them.”
The 90-day period from the bid opening date ends Sept. 17. The next NCFPD board meeting is scheduled for July 23. “We may not have all the answers in July,” Sprague said.
NCFPD staff will at least update the board at the July 23 meeting. The August 27 board meeting would be an additional opportunity for action items on financing and awarding the contract, and the board could also call a special meeting between Aug. 27 and Sept. 17.
In addition to the construction costs, the district must also fund soils testing, professional services, and other expenses.