Farmington City Council voted on Tuesday to assist the Connie Mack World Series Association with unanticipated costs in their ongoing renovation project at
Farmington City Council voted on Tuesday to assist the Connie Mack World Series Association with unanticipated costs in their ongoing renovation project at Ricketts Park. (Augusta Liddic/The Daily Times)
FARMINGTON — The Connie Mack World Series Association will receive $45,365 of assistance from Farmington to cover unanticipated labor costs in their ongoing renovation project at Ricketts Park.

The costs resulted from a state Department of Workforce Solutions decision that prevailing wages be paid to workers on the project. Although the state later reversed its decision, some of the money had already been paid out.

"This is probably an appropriately shared item between the Connie Mack World Series Association and the city," said Mayor Tommy Roberts.

A prevailing wage is the hourly wage, benefits and overtime paid to the majority of workers, laborers and mechanics in a particular area.

Under New Mexico's state statutes, any public contract or project of more than $60,000 is subject to a provision guaranteeing a minimum wage and fringe benefits.

New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions officials said the city needed to pay the so-called prevailing wage on the Ricketts project, only to reverse the decision in a letter sent to the city on April 4.

Subcontractors working on the project, however, began paying at the prevailing rate before the April 4 notice from the state arrived.

The funding plan calls for reallocating $29,000 originally slated to pay for a new digital scoring system, and authorizing $16,365 in new city funding.

Councilman Jason Sandel said that he would have a hard time approving funding to cover the additional expenses for prevailing wage and postponing funding for the scoreboard, and expressed frustration about what he called a lack of planning.

"This has been a nightmare," he said. "I just really question the entire project."

Kim Carpenter, association president and San Juan County CEO said that he is still trying to figure out exactly what caused confusion about the project at the state level.

"Prevailing wage was never an issue on other big projects," he said.

The Ricketts Park renovation project has also incurred other large, unanticipated expenses because of Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility requirements and other changes, Carpenter said.

"We did have contingency build in," he said. "We have plans in place. If we hadn't run into the prevailing wage issue, we wouldn't be here today. I just want to make sure you understand that the state placed requirements on us that cost more money. We had diligently gone forward and paid the people that needed to be back paid to avoid any kind of fine."

Although Sandel argued that the project should not have moved forward until all the planning was finished, Carpenter said that delays sometimes result in the loss of donations.

"They want to see progress," Carpenter said. "We just lost a donor last week because of a change in his life."

The Ricketts Park renovation project overall appears to be progressing smoothly despite the prevailing wage issue.

"I'm very, very pleased with the project, and I'm grateful to the Connie Mack World Series Association and to the people who have donated to make this project possible," City Manager Rob Mayes said in a phone interview Wednesday morning. "The city and the (association) have enjoyed a long-standing public-private partnership. The project is near completion by all reports to me."

But the Ricketts Park renovation project is not simply about benefiting the Connie Mack World Series, he said.

"That facility is used year round," Mayes said.

Ricketts Park hosts high school graduations, multiple baseball tournaments and a variety of other year-round activities, he said.

"It's is one of our treasured quality of life facilities at the city of Farmington," Mayes said.

Greg Yee can be reached at gyee@daily-times.com; 505-564-4606. Follow him on Twitter @GYeeDT.