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Council gets sticker shock

The Medford City Council today nervously approved a $7.15 million contract with Adroit Construction Co. of Ashland that paves the way for construction of two new fire stations.

“I feel like I’m being asked to make another leap of faith,” Councilor Chris Corcoran said.

The council wanted to build a new police headquarters and three new fire stations, but cost overruns have plagued both projects, which will cost $32 million in bonds, paid through higher utility fees.

As a result, the council decided to finish the new police headquarters and build only two new fire stations, one on Table Rock Road and the other in west Medford.

Corcoran and others on the council expressed “shaky confidence” over whether change orders or unforeseen issues would pop up that could add more costs to the projects.

Councilor Dick Gordon said that as an example, the plans for the new police headquarters failed to account for electrical outlets in one room.

“We keep on getting surprises on costs,” he said.

Some councilors wanted to build only one fire station, while others wanted to see whether the stations could be put out to bid in hopes of getting a better price.

Councilors Gordon, Tim Jackle and Clay Bearnson voted against the contract.

Once the city builds the two new fire stations, it will have only $600,000 left over, which is not enough to build a third fire station.

The council also approved paying Ogden Roemer Wilkerson Architecture another $135,000 because the company had to redesign the fire stations to help bring down costs.

A breakdown of the costs so far for the fire stations includes $22,500 in pre-construction costs, $250,000 in establishing temporary quarters for firefighters on Table Rock and $7.15 million for actual construction of the fire stations.

Furniture, lockers and other expenses will bring the total to $9.096 million. Within the total cost is $450,000 for contingencies.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @reporterdm.