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Audit of North RO Water Plant likely

By Staff | Aug 1, 2011

City Council will likely shift the focus of a previously approved audit to the North RO Water Plant after Utilities Director Jeff Pearson discovered what he said were excessive change orders to city capital projects, including the water plant.

Council previously dedicated $200,000 to a forensic audit of SW 6/7 and North 18 portions of the Utilities Expansion Project.

Mayor John Sullivan said the previously approved amount should cover the audit of the North RO Plant and he would seek council’s support next week.

Pearson told council that he discovered 1,157 change orders over several city projects.

Pearson said the number of change orders was high and made him uncomfortable. Along with other members of city staff, Pearson said he was combing through those change orders to have information to present to the chosen auditors, including Michael Kessler.

“There’s so many you have to look at each on their own merits,” Pearson said.

The North RO Plant came in at the guaranteed maximum price, according to Pearson.

Councilmember Marty McClain warned that change orders are typical of construction projects.

“I haven’t seen any set of plans yet that didn’t have a change order,” McClain said.

Councilmember Kevin McGrail agreed with the mayor that the high number of change orders raised enough red flags to justify an audit of the North RO Plant.

Councilmember Bill Deile also agreed.

“I think refocusing the audit to this might be a more fertile area to recoup money,” Deile said.