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Local News

The City of Hastings will pay invoices for $230,000 from the Michigan Department of Transportation for work done on the Safe Routes to Schools project that went over the contractual cap of $698,000 on funding for the project.

 

Officials were caught off guard and didn’t realize they owned the money until invoices started coming in after the project was completed, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said.

Councilman Al Jarvis said he had “asked a couple of times” if there were going to be cost overruns during construction and was told no.

 

“That’s a lot of money; the whole project cost $698,000 and we get a bill for a third of that we were not expecting. To me, $230,000, that’s a heck of a screw up. We have egg on our faces. I don’t understand an explanation of what happened.”

 

Mansfield said he could give a brief explanation. There were many changes in the scope of work on the Safe Routes to Schools during the project for a variety of reasons; problems that came up and that had to be addressed and a lot of additional work was done, he said.

 

“A city staff member actually approved the additional work,” he said. It was all needed, legitimate work that was done, and it benefitted the community, “but, it was somewhat discretionary, and if we elected to do ‘this’ work, we had the discretion to change other work to stay within the project’s budget. Which is exactly what should have happened.

 

“Yes, you’re right…we all have eggs on our faces, but it was approved by city staff. It is an expense we will have to bear…The MDOT will be compensated for the work.”

Jarvis asked if it fell on Williams & Works, the company that did the design work.

“We will be talking to you about Williams &Works and expenses, but we do not anticipate paying them in full for additional work that they had to do.”

 

Councilman Donald Bowers was adament that Williams & Works should be held completely accountable for not providing the city with the real costs. Mansfield disagreed.  “Williams & Works did have some shortfalls in their design. They acknowledged that, but those costs were in addition to that and were authorized by city staff.

 

“I think that several critical points were missed and there was an opportunity to control this, and we didn’t avail ourselves of that opportunity.”

Mansfield said the city was taking steps to prevent anything like that from happening again.

 

“I understand we are robbing Peter to pay Paul, what else can we do? It’s frustrating,” Jarvis said. Councilman Jim Cary asked if they should spread out the payments over time, Mansfield said the city has the funds to cover it, “It just means other work this summer will not be done.”

 

Bowers asked if the unidentified staff member who approved the change orders had been reprimanded, Mansfield replied “yes.” The vote to amend the budget to decrease spending on streets to pay for the total invoices of $233,521.18 invoices passed, 7-2, with Jarvis and Bowers voting “no.”

 

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