TCAPS to pay $200k to electrical company in settlement

Mar. 19—TRAVERSE CITY — The Traverse City Area Public Schools board of education approved a settlement agreement to pay an additional $200,000 to Shoreline Power Services, Inc. for the company's work on the TCAPS Montessori school construction site.

The settlement agreement is the result of a dispute in the cost of change-orders, or changes to the original scope of the Montessori construction project, which was delayed by several months, said Board President Scott Newman-Bale.

The board's decision to approve the settlement agreement came after a closed session during their regular board meeting Monday.

Shoreline Power Services provided electrical and IT services for the Montessori construction project, Superintendent Dr. John VanWagoner said.

The company filed a lawsuit against TCAPS for the money they said they were owed over the changes to the project, and the school and the company agreed to mediate the discussion with legal counsel.

The work being done by Shoreline Power Services ran behind schedule and went on longer than originally planned, largely due to delays in inspections from the state of Michigan and there were changes to how much the company was owed from the original estimations, Newman-Bale said.

The money for the settlement agreement will come out of the school district's capital bond contingency fund, not the Montessori construction project contingency fund, Newman-Bale said.

There was not enough money left in the Montessori contingency, and the board decided it did not make sense to add to that contingency fund at this point, since the project is nearing completion, Newman-Bale said.

According to the company's website, Shoreline Power Services has worked on other projects in the area such as the installation of a shooter detection system at Glen Lake Community Schools, a remodel of the Best Western Four Seasons in Traverse City and the new Wexford County Jail.

The mediation took one day, so attorney fees will be minimal, VanWagoner said.

However, he is unsure the exact amount, he said.

Newman-Bale said that this kind of discussion is common in construction projects, but this one was unique because both parties used their lawyers to mediate the discussion.

Newman-Bale said that the school board is happy with the settlement and with the final cost of the Montessori construction.

The project ended up going over its projected price and was delayed by over two years, but much of that can be tied to the logistical and economic impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the construction and inspection industries in Michigan, Newman-Bale said.

"They did a good job of controlling costs in general," Newman-Bale said.

When construction on the new Montessori building on Franke Road began in April 2021, the vision was for the school to begin welcoming students in September 2022.

However, inspection delays, supply chain shortages and labor shortages, which were felt by many school construction projects, pushed the start date to September 2023.

In November, the board added an additional $100,000 to the Montessori contingency plan as a cushion for any unexpected costs that may have come up before the end of the project.

The original contingency fund for the project totaled just over $1.7 million, and it has gone toward equipment rentals, additional worker pay and some changes they have made to plans for the site, as previously reported.

Officials from Shoreline Power Services, Inc. were unable to comment by press time.