Cudjoe sewer contractor in trouble in Broward [Florida Keys Keynoter, (Marathon, Fla.)]By Kevin Wadlow, Florida Keys Keynoter, (Marathon, Fla.)McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
Dec. 19--A company recommended to receive a $35.7 million contract for Lower Keys sewer construction ran into subcontracting problems on a Broward County project earlier this year.
Giannetti Contracting Corp. was accused by the Broward County Inspector General's Office of taking part in what a June report describes as a "scheme" to evade mandates to use locally owned small businesses on a portion of a $6.5 million wastewater project in Dania.
That report probably will not hinder today's planned contract award to Giannetti for the Inner Island portion of the Cudjoe Regional wastewater system, said Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority Chief Executive Kirk Zuelch.
"All the information we have received does not indicate any reason not to proceed," Zuelch said. The FKAA, meeting at 9:30 a.m. today at the utility's Kennedy Drive offices in Key West, will consider the Giannetti contract along with a $79.8 million contract to Layne Heavy Civil for the Cudjoe Outer Island system, and $21.9 million to Wharton Smith for the Lower Keys treatment plant.
Giannetti's low bid for the Cudjoe work was about $4 million to $5 million below county estimates.
"Broward County has taken no action at this point against Giannetti, which continues to do work for Broward," Zuelch said. "They've done several projects there and have at least one very large contract still active."
Broward County purchasing staff told FKAA Attorney Bob Feldman that Giannetti "has been doing very well" on its work there, Zuelch said.
Calls to Giannetti's home office in Sterling Heights, Mich., and to the Broward County Administrator's Office were not been returned as of press time.
The primary target of the Broward County Inspector General Office's 15-page report was a subcontractor trucking company that grew too large to qualify as a small business under Broward's set-aside for small businesses, known as the County Business Enterprises program.
Stanford and Sons Trucking attempted to get approved small businesses to act as a "pass-through" for more than $400,000 in work that Stanford performed on the project under primary contractor Giannetti.
The report indicates that Giannetti issued checks to smaller trucking firms that actually did little or no work. Giannetti executives said they believed Stanford and Sons Trucking had contracted legally with the smaller firms.
Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry called the Inspector General Office's finding "both surprising and unexpected" in her June 19 response to the report.
"The incidence of contractor misconduct, misrepresentation, falsehoods and scheming ... necessitates immediate action by the county," she wrote.
The only penalty specifically outlined against Giannetti was refusing to credit money paid to Stanford and Sons and a related firm toward Giannetti's required small-business quota.
Zuelch said the Cudjoe Regional contracts stipulate that winning bidders have local-preference "goals" for hired subcontractors that would amount to about 17 percent of the overall project cost.
The FKAA administers sewer projects for Monroe County in the unincorporated areas except for Key Largo, which has its own sewer district.
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