Thursday, October 26, 2000

Audit of stadium overruns to cost taxpayers $627K

Weighs responsibility for stadium overruns

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The audit meant to outline how much of the $46 million in cost overruns at Paul Brown Stadium will be paid by taxpayers is going to cost taxpayers $627,554.

        Hamilton County commissioners approved the expenditure Wednesday. It will pay for PricewaterhouseCoopers, a New York-based auditing firm, to finish examing the thousands of changes to contracts at the new football stadium.

        PricewaterhouseCoopers has been on the job since December. A preliminary report in February said that a hurried construction schedule, lax oversight and poor record-keeping contributed to the overruns.

        Since then, the firm has been inspecting every change order associated with the project, trying to figure out which are the county's responsibility and which will have to be paid by the archi tect, project manager or construction manager.

        A final report is due in about six weeks.

        Suzanne Burke, director of the county's Administrative Services, said the auditor has gone through about 80 percent of the changes. She said there is no evidence of any theft of fraud at the stadium.

        “If they had seen that kind of thing, they would have contacted us immediately,” Ms. Burke said.

        The county may be able to recover some of the money for the overruns, but only after lengthy negotiations or, possibly, lawsuits.

        County officials developed a guaranteed maximum price (GMP) for the stadium as a result of negotiating with the contractor after preliminary design drawings were complete.

        The idea was that taxpayers would be responsible only for the $287 million GMP, and that the contractor would pick up any cost over runs.

        But the GMP was based on incomplete design drawings. So all work that could have reasonably been part of the GMP, but was not in the original drawings, would be the county's responsibility.

        The construction auditor is examining the contract changes to figure out why the changes happened and who is responsible for the added costs.


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