Friday, December 19, 2008

Cement Prices Holding Up NIP Project for Newman Park

Here's the good news: Newman Park is in the queue for new swing sets this spring. Likewise, our Neighborhood Improvement Project funds have been granted and a bid went out in November to put in the concrete pads needed for exercise stations and so forth. However, the bids that came in were over what the estimate for the project is by a bit over $5,000. City engineers believe that the reason for the difference is the price of concrete. That commodity did go up in 2008 especially during the month of November. We could take out items from our improvement plan or try to come up with the $5,000 that the City is short or we could wait and see if the price of cement goes down which is what City engineers think might happen in January. Obviously, it is better to wait and re-bid even if that holds our project up for a month more.

However, the cost of cement may not be going down at all. A spokesman for an engineering firm told me:
"We have not heard of any decrease in concrete coming up – if anything it may continue to rise. I don’t know where City engineers are getting that info. It’s true that contractors are lowering some of their other costs – like profit – in order to be more competitive. The City is just as capable of building a data base and tracking the cost of materials, and unit prices. Maybe if they did they would be more realistic about budgets versus wish list. But then who knows who they call to check prices – some of their buddies - or legitimate businesses."
The best that we can do right now is wait and re-visit this again in January.

The latest Portland Cement Association forecast of cement, concrete, and construction predicts a 12 percent decline in cement consumption in 2008, followed by another 6 percent drop in 2009. Consumption may be down but what about supply? With Jobe frantically supplying cement so that the border wall can be built, supply may remain fairly constant in our area. If so, prices will go up and not down.

Again, all we can do is wait a month and see.

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