Gina Mace

CUYAHOGA FALLS: City Council wants to take a little more time to mull over a request from a Stow paving company for $500,000 in cost overruns on street improvements for the Portage Crossing project.

Councilman Jeff Iula, who chairs the council’s public improvement committee, said there are still some questions that need answered.

Work on Portage Trail and State Road began in June 2012 — about 18 months before Cleveland developer Stark Enterprises finalized the lease agreements for Portage Crossing.

In November 2012, Menards pulled out of the project. Cinemark then became the new second anchor.

The anchor switch resulted in changes to road and utility improvements completed in July.

Falls Finance Director Bryan Hoffman said the money to pay for the additional work would come from the capital improvement fund, which is holding $555,000 for two future projects.

Iula said he wants to know if the city has other options.

“We want to find out what would happen if we don’t pay for it,” Iula said. “We all realize we probably don’t have a big choice, but are there other negotiations we can do?”

The invoice came as a surprise, not only to City Council, but to Mayor Don Walters, who took over when former Mayor Donald L. Robart lost his seat in November.

Ward 5 Councilman Paul Colavecchio said he doesn’t want to take money that’s due away from anyone.

“It’s a lot of money,” Colavecchio said. “It’s already taking funds away from other projects, I want to make sure [the cost] can be capped. If they can’t guarantee it can be capped, maybe we need to find another paver.”

The city’s coffers can’t afford this kind of surprise, especially with an expected deficit of $1.5 million by the end of the year, he said.

Ward 7 councilman Jerry James said he feels blindsided.

“It’s disturbing the things that were kept from us,” he said. “We should have known about any overages, any additional money. We should have been told right up front.”