Contractor stonewalls School District on construction audit

skinney@keynoter.comJanuary 11, 2014 

A post-construction audit of the new $38 million Horace O'Bryant Middle School in Key West has come to a halt as builder Coastal Construction has declined to comply with the audit firm's request for documents.

That's from a Dec. 18 letter to Monroe County School District attorney Dirk Smits from Coastal's general counsel, Michael Utley.

The School Board agreed in October to hire Chicago-based McGladrey LLP to conduct a post-construction audit for $45,000.

Before opting for a full-blown audit, the board hired Marathon-based accountant Steve Pribramsky, a former District 1 board member, to conduct a so-called attestation that found numerous problems with project accounting on the district's, not Coastal's, side.

"Based upon the fact that this exact review of Coastal's records has been made and fully cooperated with by Coastal and given further that the McGladrey request is identical to that of Pribramsky, Coastal must respectfully decline to provide multiple reviews of our project records by multiple consultants to the School Board," Utley wrote to Smits.

Utley contends such a review isn't considered in the district's contract.

School Board member John Dick, citing conversations with Smits, said, "They're going to have to give us the information. That's our legal opinion."

But, he said, there are other solutions, like McGladrey just obtaining the documents from Pribramsky, "then going from there. I don't want to spend a lot of legal money figuring this out."

Halfway through construction, part of the school complex had to be redesigned to conform with Key West's building height regulations. And a foundation survey overlooked unsuitable soil that had to be trucked out and replaced with new fill, costing some $300,000.

The scope of the audit includes an in-depth analysis of billing compared to costs, non-allowable costs, construction change orders, quality control inspection, and savings split between the district and Coastal Construction.

Then-Superintendent Joe Burke launched the construction in 2009 with a low-interest federal stimulus loan.

KeysNet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service