Moonlighting contributed to delays, city concedes
By Risa Polansky
Miami staff has conceded that 11 design employees accused of running a private business on city time contributed to project delays and cost overruns in the city's bond program formerly blamed on market changes and unforeseen hiccups during planning and construction.
But with the design of many projects complete and new managers leading the capital-improvements program into the construction stage, projects should be more timely and cost-efficient, officials say.
"In delays and impacts to delivery, certainly productivity wasn't what it should be," said Chief of Operations Mary Conway. "With the management team in place now, they'll be able to spend the time firsthand on a regular basis with staff."
As the design staffers became diverted and projects stalled, market prices rose, she said.
The city continued to add funding to compensate, contributing to $38.8 million in overruns. Money has been reallocated from other bond-funded projects to complete those delayed.
But as $130 million in bond-funded projects head into construction, new program director Ola Aluko says he'll add five managers to oversee them.
New assistant director David Mendez is to oversee staff, Mr. Aluko said, who are to adhere to strict schedules and budgets.
"If you have a plan and you keep to your plan, there's no reason why it can't be controlled," he said.
Unforeseen conditions during construction are "inevitable," he said, but budgeting and planning is to include "adequate contingencies" and issues are to be met in a "timely manner."
Commissioners this month raised concerns about cancelled projects, but no projects have been eliminated, said City Manager Pete Hernandez.
"Eventually, all will be done," he said.