The following is an edited version of the exchange between CFO Mike Ruta and Couns. Russ Wyatt and Paula Havixbeck at Thursday's finance committee meeting.
Wyatt: Engineering firm AAR was hired in 2011, without tender, for a contract of $2.6M, but Ruta approved an additional $1.8 million in 2012; the same firm was awarded another $470,000 contract in December 2013, which Ruta approved in March 2014. The firm was paid a total of $5.465 million when the original contract was not to exceed $2.6 million.
Ruta: The administration has authority to exceed council-authorized individual contracts so long as the project is under budget.
Havixbeck: How was AAR chosen?
Ruta: Doesn't recall who recommended the firm, probably staff in planning, property and development could answer that.
Wyatt: Why did the administrative over sight committee not keep minutes or notes from its meetings?
Ruta: All relevant issues were discussed but could not explain why minutes not kept.
Havixbeck: Do you have a letter from the Surety Association of Canada recommending the bond value on the project be reduced from 50 per cent to 25 per cent?
Ruta: This question was asked by the media. We do have emails going back and forth. The general theme was that the surety association and bonding groups said you could make it more competitive by lowering the bond value.
Free Press Note: The president of the Surety Association told the Free Press in November it had not advised the City of Winnipeg it was a good idea to lower the bond value. The association said lowering the bond value "would be irresponsible."
Havixbeck: The project director Dunmore Corp (president Ossama AbouZeid) was hired without tendering, on whose recommendation?
Ruta: Former CAO Phil Sheegl recommended the firm. Says he's not sure if there was a written contract.
Havixbeck: Has any action been taken on staff for issues identified in the audits, like re-training?
Ruta: Staff are diligent professionals who exercise their best judgment.
Havixbeck: Who within the administration knew the designs of the project were only 30 per cent complete when presented to council in 2011 as a guaranteed maximum price?
Ruta: My staff are accountants... they get information from our engineers.