KIMBALL, Tenn. — When officials discovered in August that there would be $242,000 in leftover grant money on Marion County's career and technical school project in Kimball, they had to find a way to spend it.
The project's construction manager, Dillard Construction Inc. in Dayton, Tenn., recommended a $358,000 change order so county leaders could use the extra money on further site preparation for future construction.
The Marion County Commission voted unanimously on Monday to add an extra $116,000 to the project's budget to complete the site preparation for the first building, which is currently under construction, and four more future structures.
"That's the amount of money that needs to be added to the $242,000 to allow us to fully finish the site prep work for the technical building and some of the retention ponds for future growth," County Mayor John Graham said.
The board's finance committee and education committee recommended approving the change order, too.
"If we don't spend [the grant money], we'll lose it," Graham said. "It will just save us money down the road."
A representative with Dillard Construction said agreeing to spend the money on the work while the contractor is still on site will save the county a great deal of money on something that will have to be done in the future anyway.
Officials said it's possible the county won't have to spend any of the $116,000 because there may be more money coming back to the project's budget from the construction of a new sewer line to the campus and a verbal commitment from Chattanooga State.
Kimball is taking on the sewer line construction and has a $100,000 contingency budget that could revert to the project's overall budget if it is not used.
"We're hooking into a force main that's never been used," Kimball Mayor David Jackson said. "When we pressurize it, we may be fine, or we may blow all to pieces. We're hoping that we don't have to use any of [the contingency money]."
Graham said Chattanooga State has verbally committed $66,000 to the project for "extras" it wanted added to the first building's specifications.
Chattanooga State agreed to fund those extras in a number of meetings, he said, but the county has been unable to get any of that commitment "in writing."
"I don't think there's any question about that," Graham said. "That statement was made."
In fact, Chattanooga State still hasn't signed a lease to occupy the first building, officials said.
"We're spending a bunch of money without a lease," Commissioner Donald Blansett said.
"We may have to turn it into a motel or something," Commissioner Wayne Willis said jokingly.
"It's conceivable that we don't really need this money, but we might need this money," Commission Chairman Les Price said.
Commissioner Donald Blansett said spending all $116,000 of the county's money on the site prep work would be the "worst case scenario."
Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at email@example.com.