FARMINGDALE — It’s going to cost a bit more than expected to build the proposed Maine Avenue fire station.

The lowest bid opened Tuesday for the project was $1,543,000 — $543,000 more than the $1 million approved by voters last year for the new station. That means town officials will have to pare down the proposed project or raise more money for construction.

The town warrant in June 2017 estimated the total cost of the fire station, including interest, would be $1,605,900.

Those involved in the bid opening were Al Hodsdon, of Waterville-based engineering firm A.E. Hodsdon; his associate Mark McCluskey; Selectman Wayne Kilgore; Assistant Fire Chief Mike Laplante; and Rick Seymour, who is overseeing the project.

Hodsdon attributed the amount of the bids to the high price of building materials. A price index of building material and supplies compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows an upward trend over the past 14 years, with prices peaking in July. In August, prices fell slightly, but still were the third-highest since December 2003.

“If we had been ready to bid it (in June 2017), we’d be close,” Hodsdon said. “It wasn’t guaranteed. Nothing is guaranteed.”

Quotes were solicited for both wood-frame and metal-frame structures, with a number of amenities that could be pared back to fit within voter-approved spending limits.

According to documents provided to the Kennebec Journal by McCluskey, 15 companies took out plans for the fire station. Four bids came in, with the lowest being a $1,543,000 bid from West Rockport-based Bruce Laukka Inc. for a wood-frame structure.

For wood-frame buildings, Freeport’s Doten’s Construction bid $1,587,413, Brewer’s Nickerson and O’Day bid $1,776,651 and Augusta’s Blane Casey Building Contractor bid $1,560,111.

Only one contractor, Blane Casey, bid on a metal-frame building. That bid was in the amount of $1,545,110.

“Blane’s price for steel was actually quite attractive,” Kilgore said. He added it was “too early to tell” if the town would favor the slightly higher price for a steel-frame building or go with the lowest bid for a wooden frame.

Hodsdon said his staff would review the bids before a recommendation is issued. No action was taken at the meeting.

Kilgore said a meeting with the Fire Committee is planned, but no action from the Selectboard would be imminent until Hodsdon’s review is done.

“We got to scratch our heads,” he said, “but I’ve been doing that a lot lately.”

Hodsdon opened the envelopes and Kilgore read the bid amounts aloud for those in attendance, mostly representatives from the contractors who bid. The meeting lasted about five minutes.

The current station at 289 Maine Ave. is cramped — with the trucks having less than a foot of clearance between mirrors. The plan is to build a three-bay 80-foot-by-80-foot station, with a 100-foot-by-100-foot parking lot.

The future site of the station was cleared in May and now is empty. Kilgore said last month that the town paid $190,000 in November 2017 for the lot, which is just north of Gosline’s Hardware on Maine Avenue, also known as U.S. Route 201 and Route 27.

Town Clerk Rose Webster said last month that the town has spent “approximately $232,000” on the project to date.

A town meeting would be necessary to fund the discrepancy between the budgeted amount and the bid amount, if town officials don’t pare back the plan to fit the approved amount.

Sam Shepherd — 621-5666

[email protected]

Twitter: @SamShepME

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