The Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority board approved $135 million worth of wastewater construction contracts on Wednesday, including a $35 million contract given to a company that was the target of a Broward County inspector general's report for falsifying documentation.
The board unanimously agreed to award a $35 million contract to the Michigan-based Giannetti Contracting Corp. to build the wastewater collection system for the inner areas of the Cudjoe Regional Wastewater Regional System.
The award comes after the inspector general for Broward County ruled earlier this year that Giannetti orchestrated a scheme to have a company called Stanford and Sons Trucking Co. of Pompano Beach receive more than $400,000 in money that, under Broward County's policies, was supposed to have gone to a small business.
Broward County hired Giannetti Contracting Corp. to handle a $6.5 million water and sewage project in 2011. The county required a portion of all projects to be awarded to small businesses.
Giannetti Contracting submitted documents to Broward County that falsely said a company called Chin Diesel, a certified small business in Pembroke Pines, worked on the project. But the work actually was done by Stanford and Sons, which listed Chin Diesel as a subcontractor, the inspector general ruled.
The Aqueduct Authority was aware of the inspector general's report, but the board chose the firm anyway. The board, on Wednesday, did not discuss the inspector general's report. The board did not discuss the Giannetti contract at all before approving it.
Board member Melva Wagner did question why the three contracts went to companies that did not include the hiring of local, minority and female subcontractors in their plans. She told Aqueduct Authority staff she was "disappointed."
Aqueduct Authority Executive Director Kirk Zuelch told Wagner the agency could not require the companies to hire local or minority subcontractors, but it was a "goal."
In addition to the Giannetti contract, the board unanimously approved a $21.8 million contract with a company called Wharton-Smith to build a wastewater treatment facility. The board will also vote on a $79.8 million contract with Layne Heavy Civil Inc. to build another collection system to serve the outer areas of the Cudjoe Regional System.
Two companies that came in second place in the rankings -- GlobeTec and Douglas N. Higgins Inc. -- told the board they planned to protest the awarding of the contracts to Giannetti and Layne Heavy.
Company representatives did not go into detail about what aspects of the contracts they planned to protest.