Kelly Middle School renovation cost may rise in Norwich

Norwich — The projected total cost of the completed Kelly Middle School renovation could rise by up to $1 million, but the city's $10.8 million share should remain "roughly the same or possibly even less," according to city Comptroller Josh Pothier.

Voters approved the $40.2 million project in 2007, and renovations were completed in early 2011, but a lingering dispute with an electrical subcontractor is at the heart of the projected increase, city and project officials said.

School Building Committee Chairman Charles Jaskiewicz said the disputed amount could add up to $500,000 to the total cost, plus the legal fees associated with attempts to resolve the dispute. If the city prevails, he said, the legal costs would still have to be covered.

None of the cost overrun would be borne by the city, however, Jaskiewicz and Pothier said. The General Assembly this spring included funding for the Kelly Middle School cost overrun in a much larger bill approving school construction grants throughout the state, said state Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, whose district includes Norwich. She confirmed the added state grant money would not require a local match.

But the legislation does require the Norwich City Council to approve a resolution adjusting the total project cost from $40.25 million to $41.25 million. The council will discuss and likely vote on the adjustment at its meeting Monday.

In a memo to the council, Pothier estimated the total project cost should end up between $40.8 million and $41 million.

"However, the net cost to the city of Norwich should be roughly the same or possibly even less than the $10.8 million that was originally estimated," Pothier wrote.

Jaskiewicz said aside from the contractor dispute, the School Building Committee was able to add several "wish list" items to the project and still keep it within the original budget.

Because of the recent recession, many contractor bids came in lower than budgeted, allowing the addition of optional school security measures, cameras and technology that allows camera footage to be viewed remotely by school central office staff and city police.

c.bessette@theday.com

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