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Inside City Hall: An EWO that returns money to the city

frankford ave. and force road

The site of under-budget city road paving: Frankford Ave. near Force Road, taken in 2009.

Photo by: Google Street View

We have written many stories about extra work orders (EWOs) that can add hundreds of thousands of dollars to existing city contracts. Almost every week a few show up on the Board of Estimates agenda.

Yesterday the spending panel approved an EWO with a twist – it returned funds to the city Department of Transportation.

The amount ($469,886.50) came from the 2½-year-old resurfacing of Frankford Avenue in East Baltimore. The project was among the $9 million in stimulus funds that were awarded to Baltimore to repave roads, including the much-traveled Northern Parkway.

The actual savings to the city is not quite as good as the above number suggests because the contract price was increased by three previous EWOs by Machado Construction Co.

Even so, the city got a nice chunk of change. Subtracting yesterday’s savings from the previous EWOs still yielded an overall reduction of $327,785.50.

Jamie Kendrick, deputy director of city DOT, said the savings are being used to replace the steel grating and other parts of the Pennington Avenue Drawbridge over Curtis Creek.

Kendrick said other stimulus-funded projects have come in “under budget” and most of the savings have been applied to the drawbridge project.

EWOs for Conduit Repairs

The spending board yesterday approved the eighth EWO on a contract for cleaning and repairing conduits mostly on bridges.

Including yesterday’s $32,000 for repairs on the Annapolis Road bridge, the EWOs now total $821,070, which increased the original $2.1 million contract by 38%.

The add-ons were the result of field conditions, alternative bid items, a $120,000 increase to an alternative bid item and “new items needed for various manholes,” according to Kendrick’s office.

Allied Contractors Inc. was awarded the contract.

Three-Minute Meeting

During yesterday’s three-minute meeting, the board also approved the following items as a collective group. They were part of the “routine agenda” that is voted on without discussion:

$1.5 million to W.W. Grainger Inc. for a blanket contract for the maintenance, repair and operating supplies for city agencies. This contract is awarded through the Maryland State General Services Division to obtain large-quantity discount pricing.

$1 million to Shah & Associates for consulting services to the bureau of water and wastewater. The three-year contract calls on Shah to provide as-needed electrical consulting services “for various water and wastewater facilities including treatment plants and pumping services.”

$500,000 to B&B Commercial Interiors for carpeting for the Baltimore Convention Center. This contract is an add-on to a $2 million contract awarded in February 2010 and will last through February 2013.

$375,000 to Fleet Pro for preventative maintenance of rear-load refuse packers. This contract is a renewal of a $750,000 contract with Fleet Pro in December 2008 for the same service.

$192,500 to S.T.A.R. Associates for transportation through September 2013 for the Hooper Adult Day Care Center at Patterson Park. The facility provides five-days-a-week care for victims of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. With the awarding of this renewal, the bus company has received $918,150 from the city Health Department for transportation services to the Hooper Center since October 2008.

$295,450 in grant agreements with the Baltimore school system to implement a dropout prevention program and “strategies to improve academic, social and career pathways” at the W.E.B. DuBois High School.

$150,000 to Jan Ferguson Inc. for landscaping and plant maintenance services for various city departments. The Ferguson group was initially awarded $33,258 in a competitive bid in May 2009. This increase runs through May 2013, with a one-year renewal option.

$150,000 (to match $150,000 in state funds) to renovate the interiors of the Glen Ave. and Swann Ave. firehouses. The renovations will improve the properties’ electrical systems and lounge space and provide two unisex bathrooms at each station.

$70,000 to Milton McLean, Tyrode Gibbs Sr. and Tyrode Gibbs Jr. to settle a lawsuit against Baltimore Police Officers Boris D. Graham and Bryan Pisani for injuries sustained when the three men were arrested by the officers at a vacant property on McHenry Street in August 2009.

$9,900 for 36 city auditors to attend a two-day seminar hosted by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. The funds will go to registration fees for training classes in fraud detection.

The Baltimore spending board is comprised of City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, City Comptroller Joan Pratt, City Solicitor George Nilson and Public Works Director Alfred Foxx.

Young voted “no” to the police settlement. Rawlings-Blake abstained from the Baltimore Convention Center carpet contract, and Pratt abstained from the S.T.A.R. transportation award.

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  • Unellu

    Wow!  Love it!  Love it!  Classes to detect fraud for auditors.  Must not be easy to do it.  I want to meet a fraud detector.  I wonder if they are bespectacled men with bad breath?  Or are they pious pricks with an exaggerated sense of right and wrong?  Or are they just doing a job, with no thoughts or emotions about what they do?  How much they must lock away in their heads and hearts.  I couldn’t do it.  I would get so excited by what I am discovering I would be spilling the beans to the whole world.  Auditors must be secretive fellows–come and go and be inscrutable.  The city pays the auditors to get audited and then the city ignores them.  The whole world indulges in these ethics rituals as a matter of routine.  The fraud detectors carry quiet clout and I wonder when sitting by themselves they have a sense of jubilant power sweep over them?  They know where the clay feet hide and the fraudsters must quake when they arrive.  The fraud detectors probably learn how to profile and recognize the fraudsters.  Fraud detection sounds like such a fun game but also disheartening.  Like death and taxes–like prostitution and grave digging–man, fraud detection is a profession with an eternal shelf life.  I wonder if they are like CIA Agents–these detectives–or if they are like the members of the Special Forces-not even admitting to their own wives what they do for a living.  Imagine–“Guess who I audited today?” People would cling to them like flies to honey.       

    • Jcm311

      Classes for auditors on how to detect fraud !!! Are they serious ??? What a city !!! I too would like to meet a fraud detector . Oh I got it. They got this title from theKing fish. A Fraud Detector !

  • http://twitter.com/MairZdoatz Mair

    Hopefully when the auditors get back they’ll actually audit something….pretty much anything could use it.

  • PCCP

     its really comical how you guys spin this with no knowledge of contracting.

    the answer is quite simple: asphalt escalation.

    heres how it works: because asphalt is such a volatile item, some agencies such as  MD state highway tie the pricing to an index. at one point ( which i suspect when this job was bid) asphalt cost 20 dollars more  a ton than it did in early-mid 2009.

    as a result? if the price went down the contractor owes money. if the price of asphalt had increased per the asphalt index,  then the contractor would have been owed money. otherwise, it is up to the contractor to guess what a barrel of oil will cost when they pave it 15-20 months after they bid the job. and you think you are getting ripped off now!

    in recent years asphalt has gotten a lot more expensive because as the price of oil has gone up, the former lousy heavy constituents in oil that make up liquid asphalt can now be refined into the much more profitable gasoline.

    the index has increased from 150 dollars ten years ago, to peaking at over 8 hundred in summer 2008,  back down to 350 in early 09 ( after oil crashed) and is now back up to over 600 dollars.

    federal aid jobs use MD state highway rules, which have the asphalt escalation/deescalation. straight city contracts do not.

    and to make up that 400,000 dollars is only about 20,000 tons. that’s about 2 miles worth of 40′ wide road with 6″ of asphalt.

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