Gina Mace

CUYAHOGA FALLS: Cuyahoga Falls City Council will decide today whether to pay a paving company more than $500,000 in cost overruns.

Stow company Karvo Paving won the bid to construct improvements to State Road and Portage Trail as part of the Portage Crossing project.

Karvo submitted an invoice for $572,280.66, due to delays in the project, changes to the original plans and other expenses.

That’s above the $3 million expenditure council approved for road and utility work in the area.

Mayor Don Walters asked Falls engineer Tony Demasi to explain what happened.

Demasi said Karvo’s work on the project had to begin before July 1, 2012, to take advantage of a $1 million state grant. Karvo began the work of creating new lanes, driveways and traffic signalization June 29, 2012 — before Cleveland developer Stark Enterprises finalized the leasing agreements for Portage Crossing.

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

When the businesses changed, so did the plans. There was the removal of curb cuts, relocation of a waterline and addition of light poles. What would have been the Menards’ entrance on Portage Trail was changed. The State Road and Marc’s intersection had to be modified, Demasi said.

He said the city’s Board of Controls approved many of the change orders.

If they had waited to begin until the Portage Crossing leases were finalized in October 2013, “we wouldn’t be applying for funding until June,” Demasi said. “It would have gone out to bid in summer 2014, and the project would have started the next year.”

If City Council approves the expenditure, the money will be taken from the capital projects fund.

Falls finance director Bryan Hoffman said there is $555,000 in the fund that represents the city’s part to pay engineering fees for three upcoming projects.

“[The city] applied for funds last year and did not receive funding,” Hoffman said.

Some council members expressed outrage at the city being put in this position.

Council President Mary Ellen Pyke said the money could be used for more street paving and sidewalks.

“It’s a shame this money has to be taken away from potential services that would have helped this city in other ways,” she said. “We shouldn’t be here.”

At-large councilwoman Carol Klinger, who has spoken out against Portage Crossing since it first came before City Council in 2010, said the surprise invoice is disturbing. She said council should have been informed of the overruns long before it reached a half million dollars.

“The original contract of $2.9 million was overspent by 10 percent,” Klinger said. “Now we have another $500,000 and we still have to spend more on the sidewalks. They jumped the gun. It was bad planning from the beginning, bad every step of the way.”