St. James to consider delaying Gramercy Elementary bids

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 9, 2011

By David Vitrano


LUTCHER – When the St. James Parish School Board convenes Tuesday, board members will consider delaying the acceptance of bids on a construction project at Gramercy Elementary School.

Bids for the project were to be opened on April 7, but when the voters of St. James voted to allow the district to seek $20 million in bonds, the Building Committee had to consider the action. This is because of that $20 million, $6.5 million will be in the form of interest-free QSCB bonds, provided the district can find a buyer.

Federal guidelines, however, state in order to receive the bonds, the district must first outline which projects the money will fund, and since the Gramercy project is currently the only planned construction project that has not yet been initiated, the QSCB bonds would be used for it.

Another facet of the bond guidelines, however, is pay rates must adhere to federal wage scales. This means budgeting and bids may have to be reworked to take the wage difference into account.

Although the board has the option to accept bids as is and then issue a change order to reflect the federal wage guidelines, bond attorney Hugh Martin said, “If you could put it in your specs now, you might save some trouble.”

The Building Committee set a tentative date of April 20 to receive bids on the project, and a special meeting of the School Board is expected to be called for April 21.

This delay may not have an impact on the completion date of the project, which is set for the end of 2011.

So far, 12 construction firms have submitted bids for the project.

The St. James School Board will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Lutcher High School auditorium.