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District, architects, contractors settle budget issue

May 23, 2012 - Goodrich-An apparent error in accounting between architects and a construction management team responsible for the district's $15.4 million bond project has been resolved.

"We were never short $1 million," said John Fazer, district superintendent on Monday night. "There was never any money missing. We did have to scale back; however, we met every requirement of the bond and then some. We still kept our contingency account at $500,000."

The money in the contingency is set aside to cover any shortages or emergencies that may arise during the construction.

The controversy stems from a May 7 meeting where the school board and administration gathered for a work session to discuss an alleged error that put the district $1.1 million over budget in renovations and building projects. Architects from Fanning Howey, along with construction management services representatives from Wolgast Corporation, who were hired by the district last year to design and oversee the project, were also at the meeting.

In February 2011 district voters approved a $15.4 million bond extension to be used for educational facilities, technology, athletics and energy upgrades. Construction has been ongoing since the summer of 2011, with many of the bids for projects awarded.

Prior to the May 7 meeting, school officials said the books were monitored and they were confidently assured that expenses for the projects were in line with the budget.

"We were running on target with regard to our budget for the district's projects," said Fazer.

Since the May 7 meeting, school officials, along with Wolgast and Fanning Howey representatives, deliberated the budget shortfall.

"We were designing a building with the idea we had $1 million to spare. We spent a long time going through this and no one did anything illegal and fortunately we did not go so far as to not have the money to pay for something. In that case it would have been someone else's responsibility."

"We feel very comfortable with the bond," he said. "And now we have to move on—we can argue all day long whose fault it is we pressed it right to the hilt. There's no damages to collect."

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