Council committee approves change tied to EPA contracts

bmusgrave@herald-leader.comNovember 12, 2013 

A committee of the Urban County Council on Tuesday approved tweaks to the way it approves change orders on more than $600 million in water and sewer upgrades that are part of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency consent decree.

The full council will have to give final approval to the proposal, which would develop a tier system for the approval of change orders — or increases or decreases to a contract.

The council approves all change orders, which can slow down a project and increase costs, city officials said Tuesday. Under the proposal, Council would only need to approve changes that are more than 10 percent of the total contract costs. Contract amendments that are more than 5 to 10 percent of total contract costs would need approval from the purchasing director, the director of water quality and a project manager. Change orders for less than 5 percent of costs would need approval by a project manager.

Council members said they supported the change because in many cases, they do not know the details of why the change order is needed. No one on the council is an engineer. But several council members said Tuesday they would like to see a list of the change orders even if they don't need council approval.

The change would be limited to change orders for 82 water and sewer upgrade projects called remedial measures that have been identified in the EPA consent decree. The changes could be adopted for all government projects if the change is ultimately approved by the council and is successful, said Sally Hamilton, the city's chief administrative officer.

Beth Musgrave: (859) 231-3205. Twitter: @HLCityhall.

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