A possible one-year delay in completing Little Dell Dam does not necessarily mean Salt Lake residents will pay more than the $56.8 million now authorized for the project.

Paul M. Parsoneault, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers overseeing the project, told members of the Metropolitan Water District board of directors Monday that the corps remains committed to the current contractor and believes most of the current problems can be resolved.Construction on the dam was to be completed at the end of 1991, but officials with Clement Brothers Co. and J.E. Starnes Co., the North Carolina-based joint venture group building the dam, said the project will not be completed until December 1992.

The group says that it has encountered materials and conditions different from those spelled out in the contract specifications. The builders want the corps to reimburse the company for additional costs associated with resolving unanticipated conditions.

Parsoneault said the contractors have yet to submit claims documenting the problems for corps review. He said the contract contains clauses that would allow for recovery of costs but that the builder carries the burden of proving that unusual circumstances created a situation entitling the company to added reimbursement.

Company officials say they have invested $5 million of their own money to date to keep the project financially viable. Parsoneault said there is no way at this time to determine if that is true. He said the corps believes the company is financially sound and that there is no reason not to proceed with the original contractor.

Despite the contractors' accusations, Parsoneault said work is continuing on the project and the company is receiving about $600,000 monthly toward the contract price. He said there was a great deal of additional cement work needed on the dam foundation but that does not necessarily mean the contract time frame should be extended. He said all work at the moment is inside the tunnels associated with the project and that earth-moving work will resume this spring as weather conditions permit.

Company officials say the added cement work disrupted the construction timetable and is a major factor in the need for more time.

Company officials indicated claims will be filed for corps review within the next four to six weeks.