Committee to review arena cost overruns
Facility's project managers may be liable

by Glenn Taylor
Northern News Services

INUVIK (Sep 19/97) - Town council has formed a committee to review whether taxpayers are responsible for cost overruns to the new arena, or whether the project management team hired by the town to oversee the project might be liable.

Councillors Dan Davis and Vince Sharpe will review contracts signed between the Town and Tetlit'Zheh Construction, which was paid $180,000 by the town to manage the project from start to finish.

"They'll be looking at all the information right back to the beginning of the rec complex, to see where we went wrong," said Mayor George Roach. This preliminary study may be followed by a more comprehensive review of the contracts by accountants and lawyers, said Roach. "It's a nightmare of a paper trail," said Roach.

Town council gave authority to oversee the project to a building committee composed of former Mayor Tom Zubko, former councillor Alan Davis and current councillor Garry Smith. Smith was later replaced by councillor Vince Sharpe on the committee.

Zubko and Davis were out of town and could not be reached for comment. But Smith said "it was my basic understanding" as a member of the committee that Tetlit'Zheh was responsible for keeping the project on budget, and liable for any cost overruns.

"It was certainly a surprise to me" that cost overruns of more than $400,000 had occurred, he said.

Two members of the public questioned council last week on why taxpayers may be on the hook to bear the brunt of the overspending. "Is there not consequences" for the project manager? asked one resident, who questioned the town's logic in hiring a project manager who was not a direct town employee, but rather a member of the contracting team.

"Contracts need to be reviewed a lot more extensively than they have been," admitted Roach, who told council that Fort Smith is taking Inuvik's hard-learned lesson to heart, and has hired a project manager for their new arena who will be under direct employment by the town.

Yellowknife city council has also commented publicly about Inuvik's situation, while they ponder building a new arena there.