Town hall reveals what was behind $800K bond snafu

November 8, 2017

Lake Havasu Unified School District has revealed what led to underestimated costs of planned improvements to athletic fields at its high school.

During a sparsely attended town hall meeting Monday night, school district officials reviewed spending of the $49 million bond and 15 percent budget override approved by voters one year ago. Michael Murray, the school district’s director of business services, said oversights by district staff resulted in incorrect estimates of proposed project costs. The first portion of the school bond, earmarked for improvements to the high school’s athletic fields, came up nearly $800,000 of what was first projected.

Some district officials say that additional fees, buried in the preliminary quotes, were not included in the overall cost estimates of some of the projects; however, the district has identified lighting at Lee Barnes Stadium as its only example.

There were shortfalls in multiple areas, Murray said. There were also areas which were overlooked, he said, such as permits, underground work, architectural and general contractor fees.

“There has been some discussion as to where this happened, where else are we going to fall short,” Murray said. “This is the only area that I can see where this has happened. We are addressing this and we have a clear path moving forward.”

To make up the shortfall, the district will use bond money slated for other projects that will now be paid for through the Arizona School Facilities Board.

Citizens for Havasu Schools, the committee that pushed the bond measure and budget override, was also represented at the town hall meeting. Steve Greeley, representing the committee, said the group wanted to make sure people knew their tax money was being handled wisely and in a transparent manner.

“We feel that we’ve done an excellent job when it comes to that, making sure that anybody asking questions along the way got the right answers.”