Workers replace service lines in the city of Flint.

Flint, MI–Flint city council voted to approve a $3.5 million change order for Lang Contractors Inc., to continue their work on service line replacement. 

That’s more than half of the company’s original contract from last year. 

According to the resolution brought before city council, Lang still has 2,896 addresses with service lines that need to be checked and possibly replaced.

The additional funding for the rest of the services will come from a Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation grant.

Some council members wondered why the city was doing a change order instead of bidding out the work for the remaining addresses. 

Similar questions were asked last month, when the council voted to approve a $2 million change order for Goyette Mechanical to continue restoration services on the same project. 

“The city always has the option to extend or to add funding to a contract if they choose to do so,” Director of Public Works Rob Bincsik said during the meeting. 

There are two contractors currently involved in the latest service line replacement work for the city: Lang and WT Stevens Construction.

The city had five contractors working on the project until April 2019 when that number was reduced to two. 

Lang and WT Stevens were the two lowest bidders brought before city council. Lang bid $10. 4 million and WT Stevens bid $11.2 million to work on all 10 zones, but the project was divided between the two of them. 

WT Stevens was contracted for $5.6 million and Lang was contracted for $5.2 million. 

With the additional change order awarded to Lang, the amount of money they have been given to complete their half of the project is $8.7 million.

Councilman Eric Mays said that by giving more money to Lang contractors without bidding it out, it seemed like WT Stevens was “getting punished.” 

Bincsik said he wouldn’t say they were being punished, but that they would not be extending the contract for WT Stevens until their dumpsite is cleaned up. 

The company dumped piles of construction waste on the land between East Sherman Street and Osceola Avenue, and said they would have the site cleaned in February. 

“WT Stevens was asked to clean their dumpsite and they’ve done some work but haven’t finished,” Bincsik said. 

WT Stevens is owned by a Black woman and Mays said he thought race played a role in the decision to award money to Lang. 

“White [companies] are less scrutinized by white council folks as it relates to this federal money, but the Black [companies] seem like they’re even being punished for stuff,” he said. “What’s up with that?”

Councilman Maurice Davis disagreed. 

“That was illegal dumping they had done,” he said. “They shouldn’t have done that. You have to play by the rules.”

Councilwoman Jerri Winfrey-Carter asked Bincsik why they did not try to get a lower bid, and he said this bid is actually pretty low.

Council President Monica Galloway did not support this change order, and said Bincsik told her at a previous meeting that there would not be any more change orders for this project.

The vote to approve the change order passed with five yes votes, two no votes and one abstention from Mays.

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...