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The Scoop 3-3
A curious way to cut costs
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It's a perfect example of government in action. Only government officials could set out on a mission to cut costs and end up raising the price tag by $1 million.
In case you missed the front-page story in today's edition, I'm referring to a massive renovation and expansion project at McMinnville Civic Center. It's a project that's been discussed at city meetings for around two years.
If you recall, preliminary estimates in May 2015 put the price at a staggering $4.8 million. Several months later, city officials decided to work with nice, round numbers and it was called a $5 million project for simplicity purposes.
This forced McMinnville residents into a collective cringe. Forking over $5 million was simply too much money, they said. If we're thinking of spending that kind of cash, at least give us an indoor pool, they cried. What exactly could be done that would cost $5 million?
Showing their softer, gentler side, city officials brought everyone together for a bold announcement. A cost-cutting committee was being formed. This committee was going to look at ways to cut costs on this runaway train of a renovation project. This was in August 2016.
With this cost-cutting committee in place, a calm fell over the city. Taxpayers were able to snuggle into their beds with the comfort of knowing this $5 million financial circus was about to be tamed. Reason had found its way to the driver's seat and the brakes were being applied.
Then came Tuesday's meeting at City Hall where it was revealed the Civic Center renovation estimate had indeed changed. After cost-saving measures were enacted, this $5 million project was now estimated to cost $6 million. Showing they must have missed the greater-than, less-than chapter in math, city officials were surprisingly quiet.
At this point, I don't know if it's better to bring this $1 million increase to their attention or just let the project run its course. I fear if another cost-saving committee is formed, we'll soon be looking at a $7 million project.
Despite the inability to grasp what it means to reduce price, I should say I'm generally pleased with the direction the city is traveling, especially when it comes to recreation.
As an active guy who firmly believes folks need to do more to control their weight and ward off health problems, the city is taking the proper approach.
Proposed upgrades at Rocket Park and Pepper Branch Park fit perfectly with the city's new outdoorsy focus. The idea of expanding the greenway to make it stretch all the way from Riverfront Park to Rocket Park is also an exciting transformation.
Toss in a new skate park and a new dog park and we're suddenly getting some snazzy attractions we've never had before.
With so many projects on the horizon, I hope the city doesn't give them too much scrutiny. I'm sure the price is going to be expensive as it is. I'd hate to see what happens if they go through a cost-saving committee.
Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.