Project overruns may spell tax hike

Project overruns may spell tax hike

There are 9 comments on the The Morning Call story from Jul 3, 2007, titled Project overruns may spell tax hike. In it, The Morning Call reports that:

Get ready for another tax hike, Northampton Area School District homeowners: The district has run out of money for its construction projects.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at The Morning Call.

ooookay

Philadelphia, PA

#1 Jul 3, 2007
Now, do these "special education" costs include more funding for gifted and talented programs? I'll bet my firstborn they most certainly do not.
Fed up with taxes

United States

#2 Jul 3, 2007
I thought once a project is bid that is the cost? If there are overruns it is due to justifiable changes to the plans, correct?

“BORN TO UNDULATE !!”

Since: Mar 07

Proud resident of the Valley

#3 Jul 3, 2007
Fed up with taxes wrote:
I thought once a project is bid that is the cost? If there are overruns it is due to justifiable changes to the plans, correct?
I write performance specs for architects and engineers for all kinds of projects in PA, mostly schools. It depends on how the contract is worded. Years ago, once it bid, it bid. Done. The bidders were required to review the project, ask questions, and make a site visit BEFORE the bid so 'change orders' during the build were mostly minimal. Now-a-days there are so many loopholes in contracts to protect the contractor its sickening. There are so many attorneys for ALL bidders looking over contract documents before they go out, after they go out, during the bid, and after the bid, the number of addenda's (changes to the original spec docs) some times number in the teens and twenties. It drives estimators nuts to try and keep their numbers straight and make sure all costs are covered. When engineer's don't do their work properly in the planning stages, the costs can get passed back to the school district. It is well known that the school districts have a captive bank account at their leisure; your taxes. Just like the govt. does. The attitude is simply this for them; 'we can't make it work' or 'we screwed up','we'll get the money for our mistakes from the public. What the heck...they can't say no'. Well people, times have changed. If you don't put your foot down now and hold people accountable, you will forever have a hole in your wallet. The proper way to hold schools accountable is for their bid docs to set a firm bid date and abide by it, AND to have all trades plan in their bids for material cost escalation at the time of bids. NO material cost escalation should be allowed after the bid. Period. Estimators know materials can go up 4-7% a year on average. And if they know the completion date is 2 years down the road, plan on it on your bid. Materials seem to always be the blame for cost rising. The school districts are allowing the contractors an easy out with the old...''my material costs went up'. Well, plan on it from the begining then. Pay rates for trades are set by the commonwealth in PA, as approved by the labor union. Those numbers don't change. And if some of you saw those numbers, you would understand why it costs a $100 million dollars to build a school today.

After we get the he11 out of this war we are in over seas, the federal govt. needs to get their act together back at home and help the school districts fund some of the unfunded mandates set by the fed. This is simply rediculous....tax increae after tax increase. How much can people take???
David

Bethlehem, PA

#4 Jul 3, 2007
Thanks for the info, BarKeep. This news was expected by the NASD taxpayers, I'm sure. One more thing to happen in the NASD's world of financial woes.
David

Bethlehem, PA

#5 Jul 3, 2007
Now then, will all these so called improvements relieve the student population by the time they're done?

“BORN TO UNDULATE !!”

Since: Mar 07

Proud resident of the Valley

#6 Jul 3, 2007
David wrote:
Now then, will all these so called improvements relieve the student population by the time they're done?
Its hard to say. It depends on how much open space is around to build more houses...or I should say pack some more cookie cutter three story townhouses where one ranch home used to be. The county, borough and district need to pool their resources and work together on estimating population increases, set builder standards for space, set number of occupants per home (many homes are now packing two families and 8 or so kids under one roof to share costs)...which halves the size of the needed space for two families and doubles the number of school desks and teachers needed. Overall, we in this area, have a real multi-district problem. Many school districts are also secretly looking to 'buy' student space and bus them to other districts. So, those with the biggest schools have the advantage. And if they build big enough, the visiting kids school districts may be paying in the long run anyway for some other districts school. And just because you live in Parkland or Whitehall school district, it does not mean your kids are going to school there. If the state gets involved in this possible project, who knows where your kids will go, or if you end up with some less desirable kids in your schools. YOU people need to go to district meetings and ask lots of questions. Your kids future may depend on it. And your taxes. Just becareful and remember...school boards are also political. You see what the politicians are doing to this state...political shell games. Be weary when they speak. Take lots of notes and remember the Sunshine Law.
David

Bethlehem, PA

#7 Jul 3, 2007
My child is long out of school, but I feel for these new parents (the ones buying all these new homes). The present board orginally started out as a puppet show run by a local woman, but I think her grip is loosening and the board members are thinking more in line of what the student needs are.
City Employee

Blue Bell, PA

#8 Jul 5, 2007
at least tax hikes in Northampton are for a purpose. Here in bethlehem the school boards raises taxes just for the fun of it.
Bch4Me

United States

#9 Jul 9, 2007
Northampton needs to get rid of all their "administrators" first! Why do we need to pay five superintendents, twenty assistant superintendents.....etc....Too many adminstrators folks!!! Too many expenses folks!! And, too many stupid board members!! The high school should have been built 20 years ago -- not "remodeled" today! Get rid of all the extra positions in the school district! What happened to one super and one principal per school???? Now everyone needs an assistant -- that's the problem!! Spend money where it needs to be spent!

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