There may be an upside to the ongoing economic downturn, at least for Chandler, where private businesses are offering to do contract work on the city's behalf for less than officials anticipated.
Two such projects - a Boys & Girls Club facility reconstruction and a roadway project - are expected to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars less than officials previously estimated.
Craig Younger, a city spokesman, said it could be that contractors are competing for a smaller pool of projects than there was a year or more ago, in better economic times. That competition could be driving down prices, he said.
"We're assuming that because of the competitive nature of the economy right now," Younger said.
In the case of the Boys & Girls Club of the East Valley, city officials previously estimated design and construction costs at $8.5 million. City voters approved a bond in that amount in May 2007 to pay for the demolition of the existing club, at 300 E. Chandler Blvd., to make way for a new, larger facility on the same site.
On Thursday, the City Council is slated to consider awarding the construction contract for the project to Chasse Building Team Inc., which submitted a bid of $7 million.
Jeremy Keck, a Chasse project manager, said builders are lowering their prices in an attempt to secure jobs in an ailing market.
"The competition by far has been the main factor," Keck said.
Mickey Ohland, city parks development and operations manager, said even with the nearly $840,000 the city has spent on design and other expenses for the Boys & Girls Club, on top of the $7 million construction contract, it's still saving several hundred thousand dollars.
"I think it's safe to say that because of the economy we got a better price than a year ago," he said.
Robert Combs, city purchasing and materials manager, said another project the council is slated to consider this week - for alley and roadway dust suppression throughout the city - was originally estimated to cost $1.4 million. But G & G Construction Company is asking less than half of that, about $613,000 for the work.
"It seems that in a tough economy, people may be bidding lower to get the work," Combs said.
However, he said it's too early to say there's a trend toward cheaper city contract work.
"These two items are a fairly recent phenomenon. I can't really say it's a trend with just two," Combs said.