Excuse us if we seem perplexed about the $16 million planning cost error for the new criminal court building campus in Waukegan.
It was supposed to cost $100 million, and it’s already a year behind schedule.
Now it will cost $116 million if all the preferred components remain in the plan.
The news of the planning re-estimate was unveiled last week at a Lake County Board committee meeting. If we are reading the group response of board members and county planners accurately, the cause of this $16 million error is some technical version of “bleep happens.”
Architects were asked to design a $110 million campus. They now say three main pieces of that project will cost about $95.5 million. They first said the main pieces would be about $83.5 million.
Luckily, no cement had been poured or construction contracts signed. All that’s been wasted up to now is time.
But for a project this massive and consequential for local justice, you’d think the communication process that signals problems in the estimates would more refined.
The council voted last November to proceed with the $100 million plan, but didn’t find out that its original plan was unworkable until seven months later.
Some board members would have preferred a more tightly cost-contained, price-managed outcome. Some would never have voted for a $116 million project.
Others suggested that whatever the cost, better to buy the nine-story buildings now while borrowing interest rates are low.
We did not sense much overt embarrassment over a planning exercise that has all the precise coordination of a wildebeest stampede.
But if it doesn’t make taxpayers justifiably jittery about how the construction project will be managed and real-dollar overruns minimized, what would?
“I want to know why this happened and assurances it won’t happen again,” said Steve Carlson, a Republican county board member from Gurnee.
Sixteen million taxpayer dollars is not a “bleep happens” level of error.Tags: Editorial