The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority's contract with a firm razing old foundations at the former Jeep factory site in central Toledo will increase by $720,000, or more than half, to allow more such work to be done than originally planned.
But several port authority directors questioned whether the extra work at what is now known as Overland Industrial Park should be done as a new contract open to bidding, not a "change order" for the current contractor. One port official remained unsatisfied with the explanation from agency staff and voted against expanding the project Thursday.
The port's board of directors in November awarded a $1,387,709.75 contract to Steven R. Rauch Inc. of Dayton to remove old foundations and other remnants of the old Jeep plant from the southern third of the 111-acre property the agency bought in 2010 from a Chrysler Corp. asset-liquidation company.
Since then, "it has been discovered that more concrete structures than were anticipated are needed to be removed," according to a port staff report to the board.
When port directors questioned how demolition needs could go unanticipated, port president Paul Toth said that Rauch's bid for the work was low. The additional work will remove concrete that port officials did not think could be afforded within the funding provided by a Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund grant, he said.
"I didn't think we had enough money to go [farther] north … but the bid came in lower than we expected," Mr. Toth said.
Board members Opie Rollison and Bernard "Pete" Culp worried aloud that the project's expansion went beyond the proper scope of a change order, which could prompt lawsuits by other contractors denied the opportunity to bid.
But Mr. Toth and Matt Sapara, the port's vice president for facilities development, said bids for the original contract included unit-price quotes for concrete removal that applied to any expansion of the work. State officials have approved expanding the project that way, they said, noting that doing the further work under a separate contract would increase its cost significantly.
The board's vote was 10-1, with Jerry Chabler dissenting and directors Lloyd Jacobs and Andrea Price absent.
"I'm uncomfortable adding three quarters of a million dollars to this," Mr. Chabler said. "They should have known what was there."
The Rauch company substantially underbid its competitors for the contract; its bid was nearly $467,000 below the second-place proposal from Crestline Paving. Mr. Toth told port directors in November that Rauch was able to come in so low because it owned its own concrete crushers rather than needing to rent such equipment.