Meeting set on jail work settlement


Anne Arundel County administration staff is scheduled to brief the County Council today on a $750,000 settlement to a construction contractor to cover extra work done on a Jennifer Road jail renovation and building project.

Although the expenditure does not need County Council approval if it can be covered in the current budget, a county official said council members will be paying close attention to the briefing because the extra work might have stemmed from county mismanagement of construction bids.

If there is not enough money in the budget to pay the extra amount, the County Council will have to approve an appropriations bill.

In January, TGMI Contractors Inc. of Cockeysville had requested more than $3 million from the county to cover extra expenses incurred during its work on the county jail, said Joseph Kovers, the company's attorney. But after negotiations with the county administration, TGMI has agreed to accept the $750,000 settlement.

"I believe TGMI wanted to save the time of going through the full process," Kovers said. "It was in the best interest of both sides."

He said a $750,000 adjustment in a contract the size of his client's - around $15 million - is not uncommon.

Complications in the construction, Kovers said, such as a misjudgment on the type of soil the jail addition would be built on and complications in repainting the existing jail, were nobody's fault and common in large-scale projects.

"There was some extra work that was ordered by the county, some was because they wanted things done differently, some was because the conditions were different than expected," Kovers said.

But critics say the county asked contractors to bid on faulty plans that later forced construction companies to adjust and even redo their work.

TGMI was one of multiple contractors working on the jail near Annapolis.

County Council members received calls from the administration last week notifying them of today's meeting, which is closed to the public.

Though Kovers said he thought the County Council needed to approve the settlement, Andrew C. Carpenter, a spokesman for County Executive Janet S. Owens, said he believed the agreement was purely an administration matter. He said the briefing was simply a courtesy, and that negotiations about the settlement were ongoing.

This month, council Chairman Daniel E. Klosterman Jr. acknowledged he violated county ethics law by lobbying for TGMI, an accounting client. In one matter the county ethics commission reviewed, he had questioned county officials over alleged late payments and other problems on the jail addition TGMI was building. The commission said Klosterman did not knowingly or willfully violate the ethics law. He was reprimanded but not fined or otherwise punished.

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