Efficiency in action

Article Image Alt Text

The Aurora City Council’s recent approval of an ordinance that allows taking a design build approach on future construction projects is a positive step forward on the development front.
Construction costs can be staggering these days, no matter what the size or scope of the project. Whether planning to build a new swimming pool, tennis courts, road improvements or dig a new municipal water well, there may be a way to save taxpayer dollars by seeking more efficiencies in the actual construction process.
City attorney Ross Luzum explained that there is a statutory provision in Nebraska which allows the city to circumvent the bidding process for certain projects. Rather than approve the specs for a project and then seek bids on the total work, the design build approach involves selecting a general contractor, who would then have more flexibility within the project parameters to keep costs down.
The revised approach, which was unanimously approved by the council, has reportedly proven effective in the private sector and there is no good reason the same strategy can’t be applied when governmental entities are paying the bill. There needs to be oversight along the way since the city will ultimately be responsible for maintaining the finished product, though that same concern applies in the private sector. The goal is not to cut corners or reduce quality, but simply to lower costs by bidding and building the project more efficiently.
This concept was floated two years ago in Aurora when a private group of citizens was exploring options in hopes of building an indoor/outdoor pool instead of the new outdoor-only facility. City leaders ultimately decided to use the traditional bidding process on the $3.5 million project, though the seed was planted to consider the design build option down the road.
The council, mayor and city attorney deserve credit for giving the issue an open-minded review, looking for ways to say yes to a good idea rather than stick to the old, “We’ve never done it that way before” mantra. Frankly, I’d be surprised if other Nebraska communities don’t eventually follow Aurora’s lead.
This is precisely the kind of common sense logic you expect to see at the state and local level. Sadly, support for good ideas that save taxpayer dollars is severely lacking in Washington, but that’s another story.
Kurt Johnson

Rate this article: 
No votes yet