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November 15, 2012

Road repair spending questioned in Willow Park

WILLOW PARK — Two Willow Park city council members expressed their displeasure with the city’s mayor Tuesday night after finding out he has spent the majority of the city’s current road repair budget on projects that were approved by the council.  

Council member Bernard Suchocki said he was surprised to receive a phone call from the city indicating there was to be road repairs and later found out the mayor authorized several repair projects appearing to total more than $184,000. The work was done by Brazos Paving.

“I’m very concerned about it,” Suchocki said, adding he envisioned the way the road repairs would be handled would be to look at all the roads in the county and decide what work would be completed.

“I just don’t understand how that could have gotten done without city council approval,” Suchocki said.

Suchocki said he received copies of three invoices dated Oct. 22: one for Pleasant Ridge, one for Ranch House Road and one for Camelot.

He received three additional invoices dated Nov. 1 and 2 for Ranch House Road, Sam Bass Boulevard and Pleasant Ridge.

“My question is who approved the work done on those roads? Who approved $184,000 to fix those roads?” Suchocki asked.

“The public works director came to me and we had discussed doing Ranch House Road,” Mayor Richard Neverdousky said. “Ranch House Road, quite frankly, had become dangerous. It was discussed by previous councils.”

Neverdousky said he decided that if the city were going to do any work that Ranch House Road needed to be done.

Originally the contractor came up with a price of $49,000, Neverdousky said. “It was under the $50,000 limit that I can approve. And we had three bids to do the work. The money was budgeted and I liked the price.”

“The additional work, each time he finished something, he said, well, I can continue to give you that price and the spot price of which was better than any other quote that we had received,” Neverdousky said. “I approved additional work as it went on.”

Suchocki said he was terribly disappointed with how it was handled.

“I don’t know that you had the power to do that to begin with,” Suchocki said. “I think the way that these bid races were drawn up separately I think avoids the question here. Having multiple invoices for less than $50,000, you talk about the same contractor out at the same time with the same equipment doing the same work. I think it’s a way to evade the $50,000 limit.”

Suchocki noted that projects more than $50,000 have to be put up for competitive sealed bids.

“The way that the work was done was improper to begin with,” Suchocki said, adding that the council should have come to an agreement about how they were going to fix the roads.

The council didn’t have an opportunity to analyze all that and come up with a strategic plan, according to Suchocki.

Council member Dan Stalling said he thinks it is a good idea to get more people involved in the process of coming up with solutions to fix road issues.  

“We need to get more of this stuff out and get this right and talk about it,” Stalling said.

The number that Suchocki came up with are the first he’s heard, council member Gene Martin said, who asked how much the city had budgeted for that type of work.

The city budgeted $250,000 in this year’s budget for road repairs, according to Neverdousky, who said they received a one year warranty for all failures due to materials or workmanship.

That does not cover damage from garbage trucks, oil field trucks or extreme weather, Suchocki pointed out.

“One of the problems we’ve had is doing things without adequate contract to protect the city,” Suchocki said.

Six purchase orders does not solve the problem, Suchocki said.

“I don’t want to ever see it happen again,” Suchocki said, adding he doesn’t know how to handle that except that he would like a commitment from everyone that if the city is “going to do this we are going to talk about it as a city council, we are going to approve it as a city council.”

Neverdousky then moved on to the next agenda item.

The city had not responded to a request by the Democrat to view the documents provided to city council members regarding the projects by deadline Wednesday.

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