UH West Oahu Campus Over Budget

UH West Oahu Campus Over Budget

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Construction of the newly completed University of Hawaii West Oahu campus is $14 million over budget.

And many of the companies that work on the project haven't been paid for some time.

Hawaii News Now has learned that UH West Oahu Chancellor Gene Awakuni told the UH Board of Regents that the school has a shortfall due to change orders on the project.

Sources also said Awakuni told regents that the university was counting on an $18 million special loan to fill the gap but that money won't be available until October.

Awakuni told lawmakers a different story in January when construction of the $170 million campus was on the home stretch.

"Knock on wood, we're pretty much on budget," Awakuni said then.

In a statement issued Thursday, West Oahu officials now admit the project has run into a "cash flow problem." But they also said that payment delays are not uncommon given the size and complexity of the project.

As late as Thursday, Awakuni was still telling lawmakers that the problem was not so bad.
State Sen. Will Espero said he contacted Awakuni about the overages and Awakuni told him the amount was over budget by just $4 million dollars.

Espero, (D) Ewa Beach, said he's concerned the number is turning out to be much higher but expects the increased costs will be outweighed by the long-term benefits of the school to the state and West Oahu community.

"There were some change orders and sometime change orders do include a little extra funding," Espero said

UH West Oahu officials said money to pay the contractors is in an escrow account. The money was originally supposed to released in June and then it was supposed to show up in July. Now it is expected to be released in October.

That's a long wait for contractors and their many subcontractors and vendors who are owed significant sums of money.

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