Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Ballpark auditor should be on job soon

County wants to avoid further cost overruns

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A construction auditor will likely be on the job at Great American Ball Park within a week. Hamilton County officials said Monday they will have a $570,000, three-year contract with the New York firm KPMG ready for commissioners to approve on Wednesday.

        The hope is that a construction auditor will help avoid the kind of pitfalls that brought about more than $50 million in overruns during the construction of Paul Brown Stadium.

        Negotiations with the accounting firm had dragged on for weeks before being settled over the weekend.

        “We pretty much gave them an ultimatum,” said Suzanne Burke, the county's budget director.

        KPMG will look at policies and procedures in place at the construction site and report on how they were fol lowed — or not followed — during the first 11 months of construction.

        Auditors also will examine the more than 1,000 contract changes submitted thus far, and watch the books for the rest of the project.

        Tom Gabelman, an attorney who consults the county on riverfront development matters, said the county successfully negotiated a lower fee for the auditor's contract and was able to buy more hours with the savings.

        “We negotiated a reduced rate by about 40 percent,” Mr. Gabelman said.

        Commissioner Todd Portune has been pushing the county to get the auditor as soon as possible. He wanted Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes to help with the process, but didn't have support for that from the other two commissioners.

        “It was necessary back in January and it took longer than I would have liked, but it's important to have them on board,” Mr. Portune said.


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