Already well behind schedule, Palo Alto's new Mitchell Park Library likely won't open this spring as projected because of continued problems on the part of its general contractor, a city official announced Thursday.

Phil Bobel, assistant director of the city's Public Works Department, broke the disappointing news to the Library Advisory Commission as part of an update on the project.

"I'm afraid we're not going to be able to stick to the dates we have listed in here," said Bobel, referring to the city's most recent report on the project, which has it opening in "spring 2013."

The Measure N-funded Mitchell Park Library was originally supposed to open on April 29, 2012.

General contractor Flintco Pacific is still struggling to manage the project, Bobel told the library commission. Subpar work by subcontractors is also throwing off the schedule, he said.

"The major failing is the contractor's inability to coordinate the work of these (subcontractors)," Bobel said. "One guy does something and it screws up another guy and then somebody has to fix that problem."

Bobel acknowledged that the city's design drawings were incomplete to begin with, but he said most, if not all, of the blame still belongs to Flintco.

But firing Flintco isn't really an option at this point, Bobel said. The project is guaranteed with a bond and as long as the general contractor continues to work, the scales are tipped in its favor.

"What's happening here is continued slowness," he said. "That's more difficult to work with. We can find the company in default and bring in our own contractor, the bonding company aside, if action has stopped."

The city is, however, keeping a close eye on the project and using its own contractors to complete certain components when Flintco fails to meet its standards. The project may be falling behind schedule, but the quality isn't suffering, said Palo Alto Library Director Monique le Conge.

"The city is not accepting anything less than it being done right," le Conge said. "We're doing inspections as they go along and unless it's done right, they're not passing the inspections. Obviously, it's taking time, but the building will be quality and it will be done in the highest standards."

Despite the delays, the project is still expected to cost less than a city engineer's estimate of $32 million, Bobel said. The price tag currently stands at $27.15 million, a figure that includes $2.7 million in city-approved change-orders.

Flintco has asked for another $4 million in change-orders, but Bobel said the city will likely pay half if not less.

"We think what they've given us is inflated," Bobel said.

Still, the project may ultimately require the full 20 percent contingency the city council reluctantly authorized in September 2011, Bobel said.

"We didn't have any right to expect this thing was going to cost less than $32 million. I don't think these people (Flintco) could have built it for $24.4 million," Bobel said in a brief interview outside the commission's meeting at the Downtown Branch Library.

In the meantime, Bobel said he will spend the coming week figuring out the new completion date for the Mitchell Park Library. An update will likely be presented to the city council Feb. 11.

"For quite some time we've known it wasn't going to be completed on time. So, for quite some time we've been striving toward a spring 2013 opening date," Bobel told The Daily News. "That's why we're putting special emphasis on it now, because if it slips further it's not spring anymore."

Email Jason Green at jgreen@dailynewsgroup.com; follow him at twitter.com/jgreendailynews.