Pipeline excavation work in Flint.

Flint, MI– After being postponed in several meetings, and urged for approval by the mayor, the Flint City Council approved a contract extension for Rowe Professional Services to continue project management on the service line replacement program. 

The contract extension adds $500,000 to the company’s original contract. The company entered into a contract with the City on March 11, 2019 in an amount not to exceed $2,138,735. That number is now $2,638,735. 

The project was supposed to be completed at the end of 2019, but due to COVID-19 and other delays, it was still ongoing. On April 12, after not getting council approval on multiple occasions, Rowe informed the City that they would be suspending their work on the project. 

In March, Mayor Sheldon Neeley called upon the City to approve this contract.

“All we want is for Flint City Council to do what is in the best interest of the residents of the City of Flint. Instead we are seeing obstructionists who attempt to sideline every issue before them. Petty politics has no place here when lives are at risk. People have been through so much for so long, we need to get this project completed,” Neeley said in the press release from March 10.

When the council did not get to this agenda item at the meeting on April 12 before it was recessed, the City sent out another press release accusing the council of filibustering

During the recessed council meeting on April 14, Councilman Maurice Davis said it was “irresponsible” that the council hadn’t approved it yet. 

Council repeatedly voted to postpone this item, as many members said they felt they didn’t have all the information they needed to approve the extension. Council members asked about why the project wasn’t done, projected end dates, how the money would be used, and why they needed so much money. 

“This is my job…to ask questions and to get the information so that I can make the best decision for the residents… And I’m not getting the answers I need,” said Councilwoman Jerri Winfrey-Carter.

Councilman Eric Mays told the public at the meeting, not to “listen to this foolishness,” with regards to the City’s press release. 

“You got a mayor bashing this council…a mayor can wait until the resolution goes through the legislative process before they run off at the mouth,” Mays said. 

According to Rick Freeman from Rowe, the project was suspended and recommenced two weeks ago, and then was suspended again on Monday. 

Freeman said 25 service lines were completed in the last two weeks before the company stopped working.

He estimated that the 500 remaining service lines would be completed by June or July. 

Mays then asked about restoration services, and why the council hasn’t been hearing or talking about that. 

City Administrator Clyde Edwards said restoration services, which the City is responsible for working with Goyette Mechanical on, have stopped as well due to “conditions and materials that are needed for the process.” Restoration services include cleaning up work sites after service lines have been replaced.

Mays said that “if we can’t put dirt in a hole, that’s a bad company.”

“I just want to make sure people know these are two different programs,” Mays said. “And our problems have mainly been with restoration over here in the First Ward.”

The council voted six in favor and no dissenting votes. Councilman Mays and Councilwoman Winfrey-Carter abstained from voting. 

Amy Diaz is a journalist hailing from St. Petersburg, FL. She has written for multiple local newspapers in her hometown before becoming a full-time reporter for Flint Beat. When she’s not writing you...