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Council looking at construction audit of North R.O. Plant

By Staff | Aug 29, 2011

Cape Coral City Council is growing more confident that redirecting monies for a construction audit of the North Reverse Osmosis Plant is the right move to make, hoping to ensure the city was fairly charged by contractor MWH for the plant’s construction.

Audits of this nature are standard practice, according to City Manager Gary King, especially when it comes to high dollar, large scale projects like the North R.O. Plant, which cost $96 million.

“Doing construction audits on projects of this scope is standard best practice. It is routinely done,” King said.

The city auditor’s office indicated that R.L. Townsend and Associates, the firm indicated by council as its choice for the audit, would charge $60,000 to perform the construction audit.

Michael Kessler indicated he would charge $140,000 tto perform a forensic audit of the water plant. Council previously pledged $200,000 for the audits, which were directed at the SE 1, SW 4 and SW 5 portions of the utility expansion project.

Some on council thought it prudent to wait and see if the construction audit turned up an “red flags” before deciding if a forensic audit was even necessary.

“My concern in setting aside $140,000 for Kessler before Townsend has conducted any portion of their audit may be a poor use of that money,” said Councilmember Kevin McGrail. “We need to be making best use of the limited resources.”

City Auditor Margaret Krym said it would be difficult and unusual to have a forensic audit and a construction audit conducted at the same time on the same project, but said she feels the construction audit is a good place for council to start.

“If you do one of them, at the end of that work you’re going to have much more information and knowledge to go further you’ll learn a lot by taking a bite-sized piece and moving forward,” Krym said.

Mayor John Sullivan said examining the North R.O. Plant might yield “cleaner” results than looking at the other areas of the UEP.

“I think we can get it done quicker and the results will be a lot clearer if we take that route,” Sullivan said of auditing the North R.O. Plant.

Council will meet again in two weeks following the Labor Day holiday weekend.