A billing disagreement of less than $400,000 will now cost the city of Meridian more than 10 times that amount.
When the scope of the new city hall project increased construction costs from $12.2 million to $21 million, the construction manager, Petra, billed the city $376,808 in additional fees for the increased work. The city disputed the bill and took Petra to district court in 2009.
After a two-year legal battle and a 59-day trial, the city lost. The district court ordered the city to pay Petra $324,808 in additional construction costs and nearly $1.87 million in legal fees and court costs.
The city appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court and, on Monday, learned it had lost again. Now the city owes Petra the $2.2 million from the 2009 judgment plus the company's attorney fees and costs for defending the Supreme Court appeal. Those expenses are still being tallied.
The city said Monday it set aside enough money to cover the judgment, and residents will not see any changes in services or tax increases.
REPAIR COSTS, TOO
The city of Meridian so far has spent about $2 million on this issue, including $895,402 for an outside attorney the city hired to handle the case; $842,474 to expert witnesses; and $316,518 in other costs. The attorney representing the city agreed not to charge the city for the Supreme Court appeal if the city lost.
Meridian said it has spent $1.1 million in repairs since city hall opened in late 2008 - including nearly $500,000 to reconstruct the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, and another almost $300,000 to replace the roof.
After the city hall construction fiasco, the city updated its construction management practices to ensure proper checks and balances are in place to protect the city on future construction projects.
The city increased the building's size, including adding a basement to contend with an unanti-cipated ground water issue; upgraded offices and council chambers; re-designed the mayor's office suite; upgraded exterior stone and brick, public plaza and amphitheater; and added high-tech mechanical and electrical systems.