Minimize Cost To Taxpayers

Originally, the new middle/high school complex at Cameron was supposed to cost taxpayers $31.4 million. But the project was to have been completed by last fall. The bottom line on that equation is a higher price tag.

How much of it should be borne by taxpayers? That question was part of the discussion Monday night at the Marshall County Board of Education meeting, more than two hours of which occurred behind closed doors.

“Ultimately, we will have to determine who is responsible (for project costs), but now the main goal is getting the building open by Dec. 18,” school Superintendent Fred Renzella told our reporter. Of course, Renzella and board members are right to set completion of the school as their priority.

Clearly, however, they also are intent on exploring why the project was delayed for 14 months, resulting in a higher price. That information will bear directly on responsibility for any cost in excess of the initial $31.4 million estimate.

Delays last year were blamed largely on wetter than normal weather during spring of 2011. No one can control rainstorms, of course, so it is possible a cost increase for that reason will have to be the board’s responsibility.

And “change orders” made by the board after initial estimates were made also affect the price.

Still, Renzella and board members seem to be investigating whether lapses by contractors were responsible for delays and increased price. If so, taxpayers should not have to foot the entire higher bill – and the board should insist on a fair allocation of additional costs.