Skagway's fire department will be located in the soon-to-be-constructed public safety facility. (Emily Files)

Skagway’s fire department will be located in the soon-to-be-constructed public safety facility. (Emily Files)

At a meeting Thursday, the Skagway Borough Assembly approved maximum construction expenses up to about $13 million for the soon-to-be-constructed public safety facility. The facility will house both the fire and police departments.

Dawson Construction gave the borough a guaranteed maximum price proposal that totals approximately $12.9 million.

“There’s a lot of other costs that’s not part of this guaranteed price,” Borough Manager Scott Hahn pointed out. “I had police and fire get together, furnishings would be about $50,000, construction administration is probably $125,000. Testing, concrete slump testing is another $85,000.”

Hahn listed additional estimated costs he says could add up to $800,000.

$12 million of the public safety building will come from a bond that was approved in a 2014 public vote. Hahn said the borough finance committee will meet in the future to talk about how to pay for the expenses that exceed the bond.

Construction work is scheduled to start this month. Assembly member Steve Burnham Jr. said he was frustrated by that.

“When we first started talking about this three, four years ago. One of the things that former mayor Selmer said adamantly was that the construction occur in the winter time so people who live in Skagway who were laid off in wintertime would have the option of going and getting a labor job and working on construction of municipal projects. And this one is kicking off at the beginning of season so it’s not happening at all.”

The assembly approved the guaranteed maximum price in a five to one vote, with Burnham opposed. At the end of the meeting, he explained his vote:

“I really think that should’ve been held off until those other things could be approved along with it.”

The other things Burnham was referring to are contracts related to the public safety facility: construction oversight services and construction testing and inspection services.

Hahn said for oversight, he wants to hire someone who is independent from the construction company. He proposed Gateway Project Manager Chad Gubala, along with a local representative.

“For my purposes I need to get somebody out there I can trust, that produce top quality reports for me and really watches out for the city,” Hahn said. “So I’m suggesting Chad be the person to do that.”

The assembly asked for a proposal on that to take up at the next meeting.

For the construction testing and inspection services, Bettisworth Architects, which is the firm contracted to do the design work, recommended a proposal from PND Engineers for about $85,000.

Through observation and testing, PND would basically provide quality assurance.

Steve Burnham Jr. said the borough should do some more comparison between PND and PDC Engineer’s proposals, because PDC appears to include more site visits in its bid for inspection and testing of construction materials.

The assembly agreed that more research was needed. Both of the contracts, along with a construction administration proposal, were postponed to the next meeting.

Also at the next meeting, the assembly will discuss what kind of facilitator they might want to hire if White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad agrees to restart port development discussions.

“I think the whole premise that Steven [Burnham Jr.] had behind that is the public perception that there’s a bunch of negotiations happening behind closed doors that no one’s privy to,” said Assemblyman Tim Cochran.

Cochran said, going forward, if they start working with White Pass and ore terminal owner AIDEA, discussions should be transparent.