Only bid on VHS project $4M over budget

Published 7:46 pm Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Vicksburg Warren School District trustees are hoping a Brandon contractor can be persuaded to lower its bid to renovate and remodel Vicksburg High School.

The trustees at a special meeting Wednesday took under advisement the $39 million bid of Thrash Commercial Contractors of Brandon. Thrash was the lone bidder on the project, and its bid is about $4 million over the estimated project budget of $35 million. The trustees also passed a resolution to get about $6 million to $6.5 million in new market tax credits, which are necessary to afford the Vicksburg project.

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Gary Bailey, who is managing the school renovations project for Dale Bailey Architects, the project architects, asked the board to wait until its Sept. 25 meeting to see if he can negotiate with the contractor.

“We recommend you take the bid under advisement and give us 10 days to work with your lawyers and the contractor and come back with a solution that gets you to a not to exceed factor of $35 million,” Bailey said, “keep the project, keep the content of it, keep the philosophy of it.

“Let’s see if we can get us down to a $35 million budget number that we can all live with, you would be comfortable with and tell the community you did what you said you would do.” 

Bailey said several contractors had expressed interest in the project, but many of them “got very concerned over the complexity of the Vicksburg High School project. We had four to five people very interested, and the more they started looking into it, they got scared. They’ve got other projects they could bid on, and they chose not to bid on our project.”

Thrash, he said, wanted the project, but was having problems finding subcontractors. “Obviously, that makes it very hard to get a valid fair bid when you don’t have subcontractors bidding in an equitable way.”

Part of the problem getting bidders he said, “Was because we were doing major gutting through the middle of the building. We need to get some direction from you.”

The Warren Central High School and other school projects will be simpler.

Bailey said there are possible revisions that can be made to the Vicksburg High project “that will not compromise the integrity or the image of the building or the function of the building.”

The renovation and remodeling of Vicksburg High School is part of an estimated $132 million school district-wide capital improvements project to renovate and expand school facilities funded in part by an $83 million bond issue. The Vicksburg High project is the first major project under the program.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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