Meridian City Hall

Meridian City Hall

The City of Meridian will pay an additional $11,527 to APAC-Mississippi for a now-completed project on 65th Avenue because the project costs exceeded an inaccurate estimate by the Lauderdale County and city, Hugh Smith, the director of Public Works, told the City Council on Tuesday.

"The original estimates for the project were low," Smith said. "The work is done and the work is complete."

The council approved the extra cost, but questioned its origin. 

George Thomas, of Ward 1, voted against the expenditure. 

"I have a real problem when people bid on projects, they give us a price and then they don't do it," Thomas said. "If you bid the project, do the project."

Smith said trouble arose because the city and Lauderdale County split the cost of paving the road, with the county purchasing asphalt and the city paying for labor.

The county underestimated the amount of asphalt initially, correcting when they paved the intersection between 65th Avenue and Old Highway 80, Richie McAlister, the city's chief administrative officer, said. 

"This is the most cost effective opportunity to move forward," McAlister said. "The subsurface (at that intersection) was so deteriorated that they needed to replace it."

Smith said that the county underestimated the amount of asphalt needed, which impacted the city's ability to estimate the cost of labor.

"That was one of the problems. There was more asphalt and that required more labor," Smith said.

Smith said that, in the construction business, projects come with a built-in contingency. To keep costs low, the city had shrunk that contingency in estimates but unexpected problems, like the additional asphalt, no longer are covered. 

"I'll do a better job of pushing the estimate on these projects higher... we just have a tendency to bid as tight as possible," Smith said, noting that tight projects had less "wiggle room" for unexpected problems.

Smith said APAC had tried to wait while the city attempted to correct the problem over the last six months or so, only sending a demand letter recently. 

"They were very patient and courteous with us," Smith said. 

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