The city’s Department of Public Works incurred $47,363 in extra expenses for electronics disposal without securing approval from the council. Public works exceeded its original $32,000 contract with Lakewood-based Samr by 148-percent.
Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres’ administration presented a change order resolution to the council on Tuesday night to amend the contract amount for Samr from $32,000 to $79,363. Council members criticized the administration for failing to secure the council’s approval prior to incurring the expenses.
“What were the drivers that led to such a significant change?” asked William McKoy, 3rd Ward councilman. “The council deserves a more fuller explanation than sliding the resolution forward and absent our inquiry we would not have known. I would have preferred an upfront explanation.”
McKoy, who described the situation as a “gross process failure,” asked what has been put in place to prevent a similar occurrence. This was the second such incident to emerge in recent weeks. In late July, it emerged the city spent $86,500 for street sweeper repairs without getting approval from the council.
City’s chief attorney Domenick Stampone said the contractor performed the work to the administration’s satisfaction. Upon learning of the situation, his office had to figure out a way to get the contractor paid for the work that was already performed, he told the council.
“This is not the way to do it,” acknowledged Stampone. He did not have an answer whether a corrective measure has been put in place to prevent a similar scenario in the future. The extra expenses resulted from the city’s underestimation of the “gross weight of the electronic equipment to be collected,” according to the resolution.
There has been an increase in the number of television sets put on the curb that led to the higher expenses, said William “Billy” Rodriguez, assistant director of public works. Some council members asked whether the TV sets were dumped on city sidewalks by out-of-towners.
Some of the TVs may not have originated from city limits, said officials.
“We see different TVs in the same area,” said Luis Velez, 5th Ward councilman. “There’s dumping back and forth.”
Michael Jackson, public works supervisor, noted sometimes there are those who pick up TVs left out for pick up by residents, extract valuable metals, and drop them off at different locations in the city.
The council demanded a better explanation from the administration.
“You can’t run in the real world like that,” said McKoy noting the change order is larger than the original contract. He said this is why change orders are restricted to a percentage of the contract. Some contractors submit artificially low bids only to ask for change orders that end up costing the city.
“This will repeat itself. No one’s telling you they’ve fixed it. This is the second one we’ve gotten,” remarked McKoy.
Council members took the resolution off the agenda until a better explanation and corrective action plan is provided by the administration.