BOT approves funding to complete over-budget construction projects

Audience members listen to a motion at Wednesday’s BOT
Budget, Finance, and Facilities Committee meeting. Photo by Tenae Taylor

A Florida A&M University Board of Trustees committee approved two bids on Wednesday for additional funding to complete a 700-bed residence hall and an amphitheater.

The call for $1.7 million to finish construction on an amphitheater and a total of $7 million to finish a four-story residence hall with a dining hub was made at the Budget, Finance and Facilities Committee meeting. After brief deliberation, both motions were unanimously approved by the committee. The full board was expected to approve the funding at its meeting on Thursday.

Even though bid openings for the dining hall occurred two months ago, original costs for the project were underestimated by roughly 12 percent. Some board members voiced concerns upon receiving this news.

“We are looking at a $7 million oversight which is a major issue,” board chair Kelvin Lawson said.

After noting his discussion on this case with the Board of Governors, Lawson reported their understanding on how this is being resolved. He called for the requirement of a formal monthly review led by the CFO and the construction team on both projects to include expenditures to date, planned expenditures and any potential risks to completion dates.

In response, it was moved that the Center for Access and Student Success building be added to Lawson’s notion even though the building has not gone over budget.

The board’s goal, Lawson said, is to eliminate reoccurring instances of having to tap into extra funds to pay for poorly monitored and ill-budgeted projects.

“At some point, I need to wrap my arms around, how did they underestimate IT [information technology] and the dining hub exterior and interior? I’m just trying to feel comfortable with how they did that,” Trustee Belvin Perry, Jr.

The meeting’s presentation specified that the project management company, Construct Two Construction Managers, Inc. “presented a 60 percent early release guaranteed maximum price (GMP) proposal for the 700-bed residence hall and dining hub shell so the university could meet the deadline to close on the HBCU loan financing.

Various reasons exist but in addition to the incomplete GMP, one factor for the additional construction costs of the residence hall and dining facility has been explained as the effect of “high volume construction currently underway in Tallahassee,” per the Finance and Administration presentation materials presented by Richard Schweigert, FAMU’s interim CFO.

Trustees were asked to authorize the use of $7 million from auxiliary reserves such as housing, parking and dining and accessible federal funds to cover the deficit of the residence hall project. The motion carried.

“We’re responsible for taxpayers’ money,” Trustee Robert Woody said during the session. “We gotta make sure that we solve this problem and that it’s not happening over and over again.”

Everything but the dining hub is expected to be complete by August 2020, according to Schweigert, who is set to hand over his current position to Alan D. Robertson next month. FAMU announced last week that Robertson will take over as CFO.

For more information on the funding breakdowns or this week’s BOT Budget, Finance and Facilities Committee meeting in general, visit and click on “Meeting Materials.”