SARASOTA (WWSB) - A recent jury decision involving Lift Station 87 will cost the City of Sarasota a reported $600,000--but legal fees around the case topped $7 million. That would raise the costs associated with the project to nearly $50 million.
The lawsuit involved one of the project’s original construction firms. At issue is whether the city breached a contract.
According to the City of Sarasota, this is what the case cost taxpayers: $3.3 million in attorney fees. $2.9 million in expert witness fees. $718,000 in litigation costs.
Lift Station 87 was originally supposed to cost around $9 million, be built underground in Luke Wood Park, and be completed about a decade earlier. Instead the costs will be over five times the original budget, will be built above ground, and is scheduled for completion in late 2020.
We reached out to City Manager Tom Barwin for comment. A member of his media relations department said he is “out of the office this week” and didn’t suggest an alternative spokesman.
But city hall taxpayer watchdog Martin Hyde had plenty to say about the escalating costs of Lift Station 87.
“How did it ever get to this? Ten years late. Still not done. Turning a beautiful park into a waste-water treatment plant. This is exactly what happens when people aren’t looking. It’s the government you get when you don’t vote. Most people don’t know what a lift station is. They’ll know when they get their tax bill. People should turn up at City Hall and ask the question, ‘What on earth happened here?’,” Hyde said.
An updated informational sign on the construction site no longer lists the cost of the project.