To pay extra costs to Imperial schools


May 23, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

The Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors voted to pay the difference between the estimated and actual costs of Imperial Unified School District's share of undergrounding the Dahlia Canal.

At its meeting Tuesday, the board voted unanimously to pay $44,856 beyond the estimated costs of the school district's portion.

IID water department Manager Mike King told the board it could pay the nearly $45,000 from the interest generated from an indirect fund used for the Dahlia Canal undergrounding and other similar projects.

Taking out the money would result in lost interest but would not deplete the principal of the $12.5 million fund, King said.

The interest generated from the fund was previously committed to other projects and taking $45,000 from it will delay two or three projects a year, King told the board.


Two years ago the school district entered the project with IID, Imperial County and the city of Imperial and agreed to share the costs of putting the Dahlia Canal in Imperial underground.

The school district budgeted $49,819 to the project, consistent with IID's preliminary estimates. In April, almost a year after the project's completion, the school district was notified that final project costs had gone up due to poor cost estimates.

Original estimates stood at $1.8 million, but increases in construction and material costs resulted in a $2.43 million final price tag.

King explained at the last IID board meeting that IID failed to inform the other parties about the rising costs. A computer error, which has since been corrected, was to blame for the delay in notification, King said.

The city of Imperial, unlike the school district, agreed in its contract to pay only the estimated costs, not the final price, and is therefore not contractually obligated to pay beyond the original estimate.

Imperial County was asked to pay $350,267.59, up from a $60,000 estimate. The county Board of Supervisors has yet to take action on the issue.

County Board of Supervisors Chairman Tony Tirado said this morning he has some questions about why the other parties weren't notified of rising costs sooner.

Tirado said he'd heard the computer error was to blame.

"I have a concern with that," Tirado said.

"I know it had to be done," he said of IID's choosing longer- lasting, albeit more expensive, materials than originally planned.

"The question is what will be our fair share," Tirado said.

IID Director Bruce Kuhn tried to make a motion at Tuesday's meeting to pay the whole difference of the project but couldn't because the school district's portion was the only part of the cost on the agenda.

Kuhn then made a motion to make up the difference of the school district's share and requested the whole project difference be placed on the next agenda.

Board Vice President Stella Mendoza seconded the motion and it carried.

The board next meets June 12 in the IID offices in La Quinta.

Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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