A $700,000 increase to the cost of the water meter project was approved by the Lodi City Council last week, but city staff say the project is still coming in within the original budget.
Knife River Construction of Stockton took on Phase Three of this project in March for about $3 million. Public Works director Wally Sandelin submitted a list of change orders amounting to $771,215.
These included additional repairs and supplies, including asphalt, infill dirt and replacing more pipes than anticipated.
City councilman Bob Johnson submitted a letter to Sandelin asking questions about each change order, wondering why they were needed and why the council didn’t know earlier.
Johnson did not return requests for comment.
The decision was postponed to give council time to go through Sandelin’s response. Last Wednesday, the council approved the decision unanimously.
The seven change orders amounted to a 27-percent increase in project costs. That’s still under the total amount allotted for the project.
Sandelin said change orders are normally under 10 percent of the project total when they are due to rain or unforeseen conditions. Change orders in this phase of the project are additional tasks that came up as the work progressed.
Part of the problem is that Public Works staff are dealing with faulty city records, according to Sandelin. The locations and even existence of 65-year-old asbestos pipes are not always on record, but when workers dig it up, it has to be replaced.
Other changes include moving portions of the project from one phase to another.
Sandelin said he notified the council simply because the numbers were growing rapidly, not because the project was at risk of going over budget.
Sandelin also did not return requests for comment.
Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at email@example.com.