A disagreement between the city of Kennewick and the Washington State Auditor's Office on Kennewick's 1-year-old Southridge sports pavilion has ended the city's streak of 14 consecutive spotless audits.
The state auditor claims Kennewick should have given contractors a chance to bid on the project again when it decided to change the construction materials and size of the pavilion at the Southridge Sports and Events Complex, according to the audit report released Monday.
But Kennewick officials say that adding 8,000 square feet to the pavilion and using steel didn't change the cost of the $3.3 million project.
City officials felt this was in the best interest of Kennewick citizens and did not result in a significant enough change to the project to require rebidding it, said Evelyn Lusignan, Kennewick customer service manager.
Charles William West Construction of Kennewick convinced the city it could put up a metal building for the same cost as the planned aluminum-ribbed structure with a tent-like membrane cover and also make it about 35 percent larger.
The state auditor's office claimed in the report that this meant the pavilion needed to be re-engineered.
The city recently celebrated the Southridge sports pavilion's first year. The indoor practice facility is available for drop in use, as well as by teams. It has three courts that can be used for basketball, soccer and other sports.
"We the city are proud of the fact that we consistently agree with state law regarding finance," said Kennewick Mayor Steve Young. "No law was identified in the finding and we do believe that whenever we can reduce expenditures it is always in the best interest of our constituents."
The state auditor's office did not address in the audit report the city's request to be shown a specific law or regulation that clearly shows that the city should have rebid the project based on increasing the square footage to 30,000 and changing to a steel building.
City officials also said that various individuals with the state auditor's office gave different opinions about whether the square footage and materials were considered a significant change.
The Herald also asked for those details Monday but state auditor officials had no answer by Monday afternoon.
Lusignan said if the city rebid the project, it would have added to the cost. The city could have faced litigation from the contractor who won the contract, according to the city's response.
The auditor's office issued a finding claiming the city did not follow state procurement laws for the pavilion project.
There is no penalty associated with the finding, Lusignan said, although she said it is something the city takes seriously.