Board gets earful on FCMG
The crowd may have been small when it came to Monday night’s special New Hampton School Board meeting, but it was pretty united.In short, residents told board members that if a bond referendum has any chance of passing, Facilities Cost Management Group (FCMG) must go.But that may be an expensive proposition as Superintendent Jay Jurrens said officials from FCMG have told him that to get out of its contract, the district may have to pay up to $450,000.Facilities Cost Management Group was hired by the School Board in 2014 to develop plans and help pass a referendum.Jurrens told board members that, at the time, the district signed a “standard” architect services contract, one that does not necessarily have an ending date unless a referendum passes and construction occurs.Still, the contract has standard language in it that allows the district to opt out of the contract with seven days’ written notice although the district would be liable to cover expenses performed prior to termination, reimbursable expenses and “an amount 10 percent for the architect’s anticipated profit on the value of services not performed by the architect.”Jurrens did point out that if the district decides to opt out of the contract, negotiations will take place to determine a final bill.“I’m sure they’re starting high,” he said, “and when I saw this, I had the same feeling — whoa — you did.”Still, the 10 or so people who turned out for the meeting said FCMG must go.“It’s just not going to pass if they’re involved,” said Mick Gage, “and I’m just being up front with you. Their reputation is not good, and we’re not going to get the bidders to come on this if they’re here.”Resident Terry Denner brought up a court case in which FCMG had sued South Tama for payment of $600,000 and received a judgment for only $2,500. And he was quick to question the $450,000 in expenses and profit.“For three drawings, seriously? It’s not going to go well with those guys involved,” he said.Jurrens explained that FCMG says it saves money through a variety of ways, most notably in bidding out all services, not just bidding for a general contractor, who would then bid things like plumbing and electrical.Board members and audience members both received a handout that appeared to show FCMG projects were less costly — by 11 to 41 percent on average — than other school building projects, but that didn’t sway the crowd.Still, board members appeared hesitant to drop the contract, which they couldn’t do Monday because the meeting was a work session.“Do we really want to start over again? That’s the big question in my mind,” Board Member Damian Baltes said. “I also realize the goal is to get something passed, and if we can’t do this with ]FCMG], maybe we have no choice.”Board Member Jay Matthews wondered aloud if the South Tama case was being overblown.“You have one of these,” he said holding up a piece of paper, “and we have all of these that show [a lot less cost per square foot] and I’m trying to figure out where we’re at.”In the end, board members decided to hold a special meeting this coming Monday to further discuss and possibly take action on the contract.