Construction delays by a builder who Salt Lake officials say violated a building contract for a new fire station could cost the city money, the City Council was told Thursday.

The $493,000 Fire Station No. 4, 830 E. 11th Avenue - built to replace old Fire Station No. 4 and absorb services from the soon-to-be-closed Fire Station No. 15 at the University of Utah - was supposed to be built by Dec. 19.But work by contractor Jack D. Roberts Construction Co., of Spanish Fork, has been "appallingly slow" and Roberts hasn't kept to the city's contracted schedule to complete the structure, said city Project Manager Gaylord Smith.

Glen Watkins, attorney for Roberts, said Friday his client, with the assistance of the contractor's bonding company, is responding adequately to the city's concerns in negotiations with the city.

Roberts has told Smith that projected completion of the station is now Feb. 13, Smith said. "But my personal opinion is they will not make that date," Smith said, adding firefighters may have to wait until early March to move in.

Meanwhile, the city's contract with Roberts permits the city to fine the construction company $500 per day for every day beyond the contracted completion date of the facility, Smith said.

The money will go toward undetermined losses the city has, said Assistant City Attorney Ray Montgomery. Administrative and engineering costs as well as costs associated with the continued operation of Stations No. 4 and 15 have pushed up city costs, he said.

The city built Station No. 4 upon recommendation by an auditor who said it would be more cost effective to close Station No. 15 and consolidate its services with another station and the new Station No. 4.

The Fire Department, already short-handed because of 20 unexpected early retirements, budgeted $175,000 to keep old No. 4 open until Dec. 19, the expected completion date of the new station, said Fire Chief Peter Pederson. It now exceeds that budget.

"Nobody's suing each other yet," said City Engineer Max Peterson. But Montgomery said the $500 per day may not cover the city's cost for the delays.

"At this point I don't anticipate any litigation," Montgomery said. "But that's always subject to change."

Construction of the station was put on the "fast track," Smith said. The contract was awarded to Roberts in September and construction started almost immediately.

"Construction in three months is tight," Peterson admitted, "but we thought we could do it if everything went well."