KETV CHANNEL 7. 7-20-15. OMAHA, Neb.
—There was tough talk over tax dollars Monday night and how Omaha Public Schools spends them.

Voters approved a $421 million bond to build and renovate OPS. Now that OPS has taxpayers’ money, there’s concern with the way it’s spent.

“Whoever budgeted the original amounts for these line item expenditures did not do their public school math very well,” said Doug Kagan, of Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom.

Reaction to the latest bond report was heated after 15 school projects were shown to be over budget. Ponca Hills Elementary School is under construction and over budget by $1.9 million. Altogether, the district’s $7.9 million over budget. “This was very poor planning from the start,” Kagan said.

“I don’t believe that anybody can say even a month from now exactly what the construction costs are, because of the influences,” said Mark Sommer, of Jacobs Project Management Co. “It’s one of the busiest markets in the country.” OPS hired Jacobs to manage the bond program. It built in a $39 million contingency fund that covers higher-than-projected costs, and Jacobs said it will keep the total cost under the $421 million voters approved.

The current construction costs average 3 percent higher than in November, when voters passed the bond.

“If there are additional and ongoing cost overruns and they have to take money out of the general fund or a building fund or other sources, I think that will convince the taxpayers that the bond issuance coming from OPS is a bad idea,” Kagan said.
Ntfnews151. 7-15.

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