. Dear Mayor, City Council and City Manager,. The purpose of this letter is to urge you in the strongest possible terms NOT to approve the Amendment of Agreement with Halifax Paving for excavation and stockpiling of fill material at the City wellfields as it appears on tonight’s Council agenda. To do so would be, at best, a gross dereliction of your duties as representatives of the best interests of the public and, in reality, could be seen by outside observers as a cover-up and whitewash financial improprieties that spans a decade. .
The Amendment of Agreement is but the latest modification in a series of Change Orders to a Contract that the City has had with Halifax Paving since 2003 or 2004. In no instance has Halifax Paving met its financial or contractual obligations to the City within the terms of these agreements. Yet the City now, by proposing the current settlement with Halifax, would have taxpayers believe that they will be made whole if Halifax or its surety simply pays us $1,050,000 cash or an amount of fill dirt of equal value. This is far from the truth. Consider the facts:
- In 2005 Halifax already owed the City $1,050,000 for 500,000 cubic yards of fill it contracted to purchase from the excavation of the first reclaim lake.
- Rather than seek payment in 2005, the City broadened Halifax’s existing dirt-hauling contract to include construction of the second lake and extended the time for completion (and payment of the $1,050,000) another two years to 2007. Halifax, at this time, did not have a lake-construction contract but a Change Order to their dirt-hauling contract was nevertheless used to award them the contract without competitive bidding. Halifax was to construct the second lake for the value of the fill it excavated from the site.
- The second lake was not completed by the 12/31/2007 deadline, and the City extended the time for completion another year to 2008 with Change Order No 2.
- The second lake was not completed by the 12/31/2008 deadline, and the City extended the time for completion another two years to 2010 with Change Order No 3. Change Order No 3 also specified the excavation of an additional one million cubic yards of fill, of which the City was to receive 250,000 cy, and provided for incentives and penalties of up to $350,000 for early or late completion of the second lake.
- The second lake was not completed by the 12/31/2010 deadline and is not complete today. In fact, the Saint Johns River Water Management District estimated in December of 2013 that it was only about 70% complete.
On 12/10/2013 the City extended its agreement with Halifax until 12/31/2014 and now seems prepared to accept much less than what it is owed to simply make the mess go away. At the very least, the taxpayers of Port Orange have a right to expect:
- $1,050,000 cash from Halifax for their original purchase of 500,000 cubic yards of dirt. (I suppose interest for ten years is out of the question?)
- 250,000 cubic yards of fill from Halifax for Change Order 3.
- $350,000 cash from Halifax, as agreed, for failure to complete the lake on time.
- $60,000 cash or an equal value of fill dirt as Halifax’s part of the Coraci Park Settlement Agreement of 2009.
- A completed second lake with all the other considerations involved in the original Contract.
If the Council approves the current Amendment, however, it appears Halifax can abandon the reclaim lake project by simply delivering to the City 300,000 cubic yards of fill dirt. That’s less than they owed us in 2005! Halifax Paving, Inc is an established and well-known construction company in this area and its connections with members of the business and political communities run wide and deep. What appears to have started out as a sweetheart deal for them in 2005 appears even sweeter now. Council should use extreme caution to ensure it has all the facts before making a decision that might seem unethical or biased, especially at taxpayer expense.
618 Ruth St
Port Orange, FL 32127