$15 million more OK’D for plant
Much of added cost for environmental, neighborhood concerns, mayor says.
The Austin City Council approved an extra $15.5 million Thursday for a $508 million water-treatment plant under construction near Lake Travis, but not before some council members disagreed about whether the council was misled about whether the contractor would be required to cover additional costs.
“We need and expect our discussions of cost to be more explicit,” Council Member Kathie Tovo said.
Mayor Lee Lefingwell said he was aware construction costs could rise and said much of the increase was because of changes such as beefed up environmental and neighbor- hood protections.
“I remember saying, at the time, that we realize there could be changes,” Lefingwell said.
Still, City Manager Marc Ott said the city staff should have done a better job communicating details of the project, the largest city construction project since Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
“It was not the staff’s intent nor mine to mislead the council or the public in any way,” Ott said. “We do apolo- gize, and as city manager, I take responsibility.”
In 2009, a split council hired MWH Constructors as a “construction manager at risk” that hires and supervises the subcontractors doing the construction. Most council members said they believed that MWH was on the hook for any cost increases.
That turned out not to be the case. Early last month, the