Social Services building project $2 million under budget

QUEENSBURY - One of Warren County's two most ambitious construction projects in recent decades apparently is bearing a pleasant surprise to area taxpayers: it's likely to cost far less than anticipated.

Construction on the county's new three-story Human Services building, now under way, is presently $2 million under budget - and the numbers have been getting better week by week, county administrator Hal Payne said Monday.

Building construction alone was originally estimated at $15.5 million, and the total cost, including furnishings, site preparation and engineering, was expected to be $19 million.

But the figures are now $2 million lower, Payne said.

Project overseer Fred Austin said this savings was not only unexpected and encouraging, but remarkable.

"In my 28 years with Warren County, this is the first time I've ever seen a project come in this far under budget," he said. For decades, Austin served as superintendent of public works. He retired in the mid-1990s.

Structural steel, originally priced at $1.3 million, was delivered for $1.3 million, Austin said.

Heating and ventilating materials and labor, budgeted for $2.2 million, is now expected to cost $1.4 million, he said.

Electrical work and data wiring also was contracted for less than original estimates, he added.

Austin credited the hefty savings not only to the economic slump, but to the project's "core team"consisting of county supervisors headed up by former Thurman Supervisor John Haskell, the project engineers, Clark Patterson & Lee, and the construction managers Bovis Lend Lease, Inc.

The team's idea of acting as general contractors, and divvying up construction work into 15 different contracted bids, saved the county much of the $2 million, Austin said.

"This way, we were able to receive very, very competitive bids from people really looking for work," he said. "John Haskell and his committee did a marvelous job of shepherding this through," he said. "They were always looking for the bottom line."

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