Higher construction costs could impact future projects in Sedgwick County

Local

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – From lumber to steel, the prices are up, and that’s forcing Sedgwick County to rethink its 2022 budget plan. 

Construction materials rose 28-percent in just six months and B&B Lumber General Manager, Thomas Baalman, said he expects the cost to keep climbing for several more months. “We haven’t seen the peak of this lumber escalation in price yet,” said Baalmann.

Baalmann said May through July is the busiest time of the year for construction projects. He said the peak in prices for those materials is yet to come. “At least a year, maybe a year-and-a-half, simply because we are using way more lumber than we can supply from the natural resources that are out there in our marketplace,” Baalmann said.

Sedgwick County Commissioner Jim Howell said that increase could slow down future county projects. “Our estimates may be off because of this,” said Howell

For 2021, those projects are safe because they are already under a contract. Commissioner Jim Howell said the 2022 improvements, as well as the other improvements lined up, could take the hit. He said those bids are not contracted and estimated costs keep rising.

“At the end of the day we’ve got $4.8 million slated for next year’s capital improvement program, that might not cover these projects,” said Howell.

Howell said this would impact projects like a hazardous waste facility expansion and remodel of the emergency communication infrastructure. Another 14-million dollars is dedicated to roads and bridges.

Howell said the commission could raise taxes to pay for the projects, but that is unlikely, meaning these improvements could be pushed back a year or more. “That creates a budget concern, I think we know what’s going up, we just don’t know how far and how fast,” he said. 

Howell said he hopes the price regulates soon so he, and other commissioners can finalize the budget in August.

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