Updated 12/06/2012 09:14 PM
Council reluctantly approves additional $15.5M for WTP4
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Several members of Austin City Council expressed frustration from the dais Thursday morning regarding the contract terms to build Water Treatment Plant Number Four and cost overruns.
That frustration, however, did not prevent the council from unanimously approving an additional $15.5 million, including a $2 million contingency, for the project, raising its total cost from $359 million to $374.5 million.
According to Mayor Lee Leffingwell, issues causing the cost overrun include environmental concerns as well as disturbed neighbors in the area of the water treatment plant.
Mayor Leffingwell said he does not blame environmentalists or the neighbors for the cost overruns and that this project is necessary and must be handled carefully and correctly.
When council first became aware that construction on WTP4 was running over budget, attention was drawn to the contract signed by the city. A city audit report revealed last month the burden of construction budget overages will be the Austin taxpayers', not MWH constructors, the project’s contractor, as initially reported.
City Manager Marc Ott accepted responsibility at Thursday’s meeting for not alerting council to the problem sooner.
“Could we have done a better job? The answer to that, obviously, is yes,” City Manager Marc Ott said. “I take responsibility for it. The buck stops at my desk.”
Greg Meszaros, Director of Austin Water Utility, said that despite the budget setback, construction on Water Treatment Plant Four is on schedule and is about 96 percent complete.