LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Councilwoman Latrelle Joy likened it to having a baby when the Lubbock City Council in July of 2017 approved an amendment to the contract for construction of Citizen’s Tower, which set a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) for construction. That $46,235,751 GMP was changed in August of 2019 with the addition of $429,381.
“It’s a Guaranteed Maximum Price,” Councilman Steve Massengale explained at the 2017 council meeting. “It’s a product of our construction delivery method, which is construction manager at risk. In simpler terms, what we’ve done is we’ve tried to go through and look at anything that might surprise us or cause us any kind of cost overrun at the end of the project. We’ve worked on that all up front. This should be all-in all-done. We’re excited about it.”
KCBD obtained documents about the status and ongoing cost of Citizen’s Tower construction. Those documents included a change order to the GMP, adding that additional amount. Other contract documents explained those costs as $267,968 for (Public Information Officer) PIO Suite Upgrade, $95,806 for PIO Suite Acoustic Improvements and $65,606 for Council Chambers Lighting Controls.
“It’s not necessarily an increase,” Councilman Massengale said. “There was no increase in the GMP.”
Massengale told KCBD the money is purchasing broadcasting equipment. He said this will be paid with by Public, Educational and Governmental Access Channel funding.
“It is a reimbursement because that comes from government funds,” Massengale said.
On your local cable bill you may see a PEG fee. According to the FCC, the funds aren’t a federal reimbursement. The following is an explanation provided to KCBD from the FCC:
Local governments are allowed to charge cable operators to occupy the local rights-of-way with cabling and other equipment that cable operators use to deliver service. The Communications Act caps the amount that local governments may collect from cable operators to 5% of the gross revenues derived from cable service. Under the Act, however, costs incurred in acquiring or improving PEG-related capital assets are exempt from that cap.
According to the Councilman, the City understood it could gain a larger amount of funds and chose to purchase more equipment.
At the November 5 City Council Meeting, an additional $230,000 from the Cable Services Fund was appropriated for the change. The Council will have to vote on the budget amendment again in the next meeting for final approval.
The GMP is part of a larger price tag for Citizen’s Tower, which includes the purchase of the building, pre-construction costs, post-construction cots and the purchase of furnishings and moving expenses. That budget is set at $64 million.
“We are using up most of that budget at this point,” Massengale said. “But, we don’t anticipate moving outside of that budget.”
The City Council on November 5 considered another increase to the GMP in the amount of $1,156,985. According to the City, $371,985 of that is for millwork, communications, lighting and a partition for the Utility Customer Service Center. The remaining amount is for other signage, lighting, building security, audio/video work, concrete crack injections and parking lot lighting and landscape work.
The Council was told the remaining amount of $926,985 will come from a project contingency fund, which hasn’t been utilized at this point.
“It’s coming to completion,” Massengale said. “I still feel like it will be substantially complete this year. We had originally planned on moving in November. We believe that process will start. Some departments will go ahead and start moving.”
The Information Technology department is expected to move in first to establish network connections. However, Massengale explains they are awaiting permanent power connections to the tower, as well as access to elevators. He said they are told they can have a December council meeting at the tower. A full occupancy target date is set for New Year’s Day 2020.
Documents show numerous requests for time extensions have been made for construction. Massengale says most are made due to weather conditions slowing the build.
“I would hope that some time first of the year we can have an official public open house and have everyone come in and spend some time with it,” Massengale said. “Keep in mind, there are more projects ongoing right there near the tower. We will go in and start working on Municipal Court next, which is the old WorkForce building. At the same time, the parking structure will start to come up. We hope to be in the parking structure by the end of next year so we can park. The police headquarters will follow that which is south of the parking structure.”
An interim parking plan will be in place when the tower opens and before the parking garage is built. Massengale tells KCBD staff and citizens aren’t expected to be bused to the tower.