The new Qualicum Beach fire hall will cost around $6.5 million and the town is asking for two finalists to submit new bids, people learned at an information meeting before the regular council meeting Monday.
Town staff did a three-stage tender with a request for proposal (RFP) and pre-selection process, opening bids from five approved contractors on June 17.
The bids ranged from just over $7 million, down to $5.6 million, with the two lowest bidders, Knappett and Windley, both based in Nanaimo, within one per cent of each other.
Director of Engineering Bob Weir said the RFP asked for a base bid, with no substitutions, so they could compare on an equal basis. Alternatives could then be sent in a separate bid, with substitutions that could reduce the cost.
Along with the $5.6 million construction cost, staff estimates $200,000 in off-site costs, $300,000 sites costs and $500,000 in architecture costs.
Acting chief administrative officer John Marsh said the $6.5 million is absolutely everything included, right down to the furniture.
He said they identified a necessary one per cent per year tax increase in 2009, which started in 2013, adding an average of $14 to property tax bills in the town.
He said how to fund the project is a council decision, but the current plan is to borrow $4 million in 2014 and $1.5 million next year, adding that the town doesn’t currently have any long-term debt.
According to a provincial formula, the town is allowed to have up to $3 million a year in debt payments and are only anticipating about $400,000 for the fire hall. He pointed out that to do it without debt would mean saving up for 10-15 years before they could start the project.
Staff are hoping for several areas of savings and some large grants, including an application to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Green Municipal Fund for $858,000, but they can’t include those in the budget until they get them.
The two finalists will now re-bid on the project.