Sunday, July 9, 2017


By Juan Montoya
To area contractors doing business with the city, this municipality is change order heaven.
Whether it's renovating an old building or building one all together, they know that asking the city's Purchasing Dept. to increase the cost of any project is not only doable, but encouraged.

Because built into every project is something called a "contingency" fund. That is, a set amount that is there just in case there is more work that the contractor thinks needs to be done. As long as it's within the set amount of the contingency fund, it can readily be approved by the purchasing department and does not have to go for approval before the city commission. Once the contingency fund is depleted, and the cost goes beyond 25 percent of the contract amount, then the commission has a say so on whether to approve or not.

But it stands to reason that if the city has sunk hundreds of thousands into a project already, a measly $50,000 or $100,000 won;t stand in the way of finishing the project.

It happened with the Stegman Building Performing Arts Academy on the corner of 11th. That went through more than a half million in change orders since they started the job. And they are still not done.

And it is happening again with the renovation of the old Mother of Perpetual Help building renovation project at the corner of Madison and Sixth streets.

This Tuesday, Robert Luna, Director of the city's Purchasing Dept. and City Engineer Carlos Lastra have an item on the city commission agenda calling for the sixth change order on the project that will send the cost soaring to close to $1 million.

The original contract to renovate the building into something that will be called the Brownsville Community Resource Center was for $880,000. Contained within that contract was $53,475 for a "contingency" fund. That fund – except for $12,639 – has been gobbled up by four change orders tat totaled $40,835.

Now the contractor says he needs an additional $82,919 that will deplete the contingency fund and will require $70,279 to do the job right.
That will make the cost of rehabilitating the old Mother of Perpetual Help building to a staggering $953,754, almost $1 million. Now, some would say, wouldn't it have just been better to get a brand new building with that $1 million?

Contractors know that the purchasing department and the City of Brownsville are an easy touch. They must sit having coffee at the Contractor' Cafe marveling over how easy it is to reach into the city's deep pockets and come up with more coin.

Remember the Stegman Building?
The building has literally been gutted and only the shell remains. But during a recent meeting of the city commission, the commissioners approved a change order for $247,435.The original contract cost was to be $5,030,600 with a "contingency fund" of $306,400.

However, the contractor – Alpha Construction of Harlingen – went through that sum like a hot knife through butter in seven change orders. Since it was part of the "contingency" fund included in the original contract, the change orders did  not have to get commission approval.

After having gone through that, the contractor and city officials had to come back to the commission and get an additional $247,435 for the eighth change order for another $247,435 that includes another $100,000 as a "contingency."
With the approval of the last change order, it means that they got and additional $553,835 added to the original contract price of  $5,030,600 and that the project will end up costing a total of $5,584,435. Again, the same question: Wouldn't building a new facility have been better?

In addition, downtown merchant have been complaining to anyone who will listen that the contractor's blocking of 11th Street between Elizabeth and Washington was hurting their businesses.
At the last meeting, the commissioners told city administrators to order the contractor to open up at least one lane to help ease the congestion. 
Will that be enough to get the project back on schedule? 

Da Mayor Tony Martinez and city commissioner Cesar de Leon told the city officials in charge of the project that they report back to them with an update to make sure the project is progressing with some hope of it becoming a reality.
At close to $6 million with more than half a million in change orders, it might be one of the more expensive projects (The Mother of all Change Orders?) that the city has embarked on. That is, until the Brownsville Resource Center and Ziwa Construction cam along.


Anonymous said...

And how much for a bike and hike stop over area?

Anonymous said...

So what, juan?!!!! Nothing ever changes, bro. Write funny stories, vato loco

Anonymous said...

Nobody reads this shit, bro. Get a real job.

Anonymous said...

Oliveira scam. Martinez scam. Lucio scam

Anonymous said...

Oliveira displaces children from home for his sex games

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

What about the standard kickback?

Anonymous said...

When is the city going to stop renovating old and useless buildings? Millions and millions have already been spent under Marrinez administration and for what? Just wait and see whenever they start renovating La Casa Del Nylon, more millions of tax payers monies
Going the the toilet.

Anonymous said...

Ha ha did

Anonymous said...

Money to buy junk to fill the pockets of friends but none to fix what really needs to be fixed in Brownsville. How about that horrible stink odor at Walgreen's on Boca Chica. On the corner of health and happy, Walgreen's advertises! Ha!
You can not leave your car windows open even as you pass by the area cause your car will stink like some let gas go inside, when it is actually the smell coming into the window.
The same happens on East Avenue. Why can we not fix that?
That is a real concern for the tax payers and the poor Herald boys who have to stand and sell papers at that corner.
Maybe Dr. Gowen can take care of their inhaling problems?

Anonymous said...

You mean, Dr.Gowen is a doctor of stupidity? She is not a nose doctor, she is a bike and hike doctor. Dr. Gowen gives CPR to bicycles with plenty of taxpayers money to keep the bikes on life support.

Anonymous said...

To bad you were too lazy to study and become an architect or engineer and rake in all the money. Instead you were lazy and now stuck running this extremely successful blog.

Anonymous said...

Obviously you read it pendejo or you wouldn't be all bent out of shape and posting on the site. If you don't like it, get the f*** off his page and d ont read it.

Anonymous said...

So If the City asks to change the building to have 4 rooms instead of 3, or to have ceramic tile instead of vinyl - then the contractor is going to eat the additional cost? your stupid.

If the contractor is hired to rearrange the floor plan and has to demo the ground, and find the plumbing is prehistoric concrete and has to comply with current code and change to PVC, then the contractor has to eat that cost? your stupid.

There are many things that are unknown when remodeling an old building - and the clients needs can change during the process. Why is that the contractors fault and why should they eat that cost?

I can bet you your $50 dollars life savings against mine that there were TONS of change orders at the Cameron County building downtown. I didn't hear your cry like a baby for that.

You sell yourself Juan.. shame on you.

Anonymous said...

It's "you're stupid "......not,"your stupid . " Stupid doesn't belong to him, you're "stupid",too. HAHAHA !