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January 29, 2014

To pay or not to pay?

Councilors table discussion about $294K road paving bill


“Generally speaking, planning and implementing is done through DPW, but there was a bit more involvement with the administration than normal,” Isensee said. “Some of their exuberance may have resulted in more square yards (of paving) than (permitted) by procurement laws.”

Isensee’s chief engineer, Andrew Wall, said in an interview before last night’s council meeting that Lantigua “was driving the boat” on paving projects across the city.

Last night he told the council committee that he authorized Highway Rehab to continue working after running through the $84,979 in its contract because Purchasing Agent Rita Brousseau told him and Lantigua that additional state aid had become available to pay for it.

Although Lawrence received an added $300,000 in so-called Chapter 90 aid to localities for street projects last summer, Highway Rehab nevertheless should not have been given the added work without winning a public bid for it, Isensee and Budget Director Mark Ianello told the councilors.

Brousseau sent the company an email on Aug. 6 — when it was 10 days into the added work and had run up the $294,444 in billings beyond the contract amount — directing it to stop work and saying the city would not pay for the added work.

Shortly afterward, Highway Rehab bid for and won a second paving job in Lawrence, which the city paid for using the $300,000 in new state aid for road projects. With the last of the state aid depleted, the city would have to pay Highway Rehab’s $294,444 claim for the unpaid work out of its own pocket, a factor that figured in the councilors’ deliberation last night.

City Council President Modesto Maldonado, who serves ex officio on the Budget Committee but does not vote, suggested the committee send the request to pay the bill to the full council without a recommendation.

Kendrys Vasquez, the committee’s new chairman, instead asked the committee to table the issue to allow Budget Director Ianello to explore how the city might pay the bill.

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