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Assembly delays paying disputed $5 million bill from ML&P contractor

Nathaniel Herz

Anchorage Assembly members voted Tuesday evening to postpone paying a $5 million bill they say they got stuck with for work that a Municipal Light and Power contractor did without their approval.

The city-run power company allowed Roger Hickel Contracting to do $4.95 million in work at a site off the Glenn Highway, where ML&P is preparing to build a new power plant.

The contractor ran into delays and needed to do extra work because of the presence of federally protected migratory birds, the discovery of "excess unusable soils," and the unexpected need for additional structural materials, according to documents that ML&P presented to the Assembly.

Under city code, ML&P was supposed to get Assembly approval before allowing the contractor to do the work, but it didn't.

After several Assembly members sharply criticized ML&P General Manager Jim Posey at the Tuesday meeting, Assemblyman Tim Steele introduced a measure to postpone a decision on paying the bill until January.

That was approved by an 8 to 3 vote. Steele said he hopes that the city can come to a negotiated settlement with Roger Hickel Contracting in the mean time -- though Sullivan administration officials cautioned that it could be tough to win any concessions.

"The contractor acted in good faith," said Municipal Manager George Vakalis.


By NATHANIEL HERZ
nherz@adn.com