Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

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November 20, 2012

Pitt concerned about excessive change orders

Knoxville — The Knoxville City Council approved Change Order #12 to the 2009 West Area Relief Sewer project last night. Councilor Tim Pitt believes that is too many. 

"Twelve change orders is too many," Pitt said. Nearly every project the City has done, since he joined the council in January, has required a change order. He fears that the City may be receiving low bids from contractors, only to have them raise the price through the change order process. 

Councilor Dave Roozeboom suggested that, while the City pays thousands of dollars per project for engineering services, the City may be better served to not go through that process. Part of the engineering design process is to notice and record potential problems to include them in the bid price. 

City Manager Harold Stewart said that not every issue raised by contractors has come before the council. Staff has handled issues in which the contractor sought a change order, only to have staff inform them that one was not required and should be covered by the original contract. 

"We have to start looking at this stuff," Pitt said. "It's not going to just be a rubber stamp." 

The change order approved last night includes the replacement of eight additional traffic loops, wiring and conduit ($29,239), removal and replacement of water mains, necessary for locating the new sewer main ($6,600) and removal and replacement of concrete lids with four stormwater manhole structures ($4,400). This increased the contract cost by a total of $40,239. Total project cost stands at $5,070,197.95. The original contract was for $3,747,747, though much of the increase ($1,060,076.75) was through a change order approved to handle an emergency situation not included in the original scope of the project. 

The project is almost complete. Another change order is expected, in which the final actual costs will be considered.

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