A “Change Order” increasing the amount of the contract by $5.5 MILLION with Hunter Contracting?
Ok, that does it. When is a change order a change to a contract, and when isn’t it?
Staff Member Edgar Medina explained that this is the last phase of a project originally approved for Hunter Contracting. This preapproved phase completes the last mile of the Greenfield Road and Chandler Heights Road improvement project. It’s a “scope adjustment.” (Why not call it a “scope adjustment”?)
Council members Cook, Petersen, Sentz, and Cooper, plus Vice Mayor Daniels questioned why this is called a “change order”?
Vice Mayor Daniels stated that she was frustrated with phases of a previously approved project being referred to as “change orders.” She said, “Citizens have said it’s really backward. The public is confused. It would help if we can make this clearer to the public. There’s got to be a better way of doing this.”
“Can’t we lay out all the phases?” asked Council member Sentz. (Why not call it "Phase 5" or whatever?)
“A change order is a dirty word in my (construction) business,” stated Council member Petersen. “It either means the customer wants more, or the guy who agreed to the terms of the contract made a mistake.”
Mayor Lewis asked Mr. Medina, “It remains within the total budget, correct?”
Mr. Medina stated that yes, it’s still within budget, but the “true” change order portion of the "change order," is an increase of $132k related to costs of delay caused by SRP that Hunter has contractual authority to be reimbursed for. (Interesting the way there is an additional $132k borne by the taxpayers caused by SRP’s delays, which Hunter can recoup. As usual, the taxpayer takes it in the shorts, no matter whose at fault.)
The whole gang (Council) agreed that Legal needs to figure out the correct way to identify Phases as distinct from Change Orders. Mayor Lewis advised, “Let’s expedite this.” (That’s a nice name: Phase Adjustment.)
Well, as it turns out, there are legal reasons for continuing to call scope adjustments/phase adjustments “Change Orders,” even if they aren’t “true change orders.” It’s one of those terms that makes sense to attorneys, but not to human beings.
And so, while a “change order” isn’t really a change order but it makes sense to all the insiders, we the taxpayers remain confused.