By Elsa Maxey
An adopted ordinance in Sugar Land this month gives the City Manager, Allen Bogard, the authority to approve contract change orders in any amount up to $50,000. It used to be $25,000, but the city reported that at the end of the 82nd legislative session, HB679 increased the amount that a governing body could delegate to an administrative official for approval of a contract change order. The authorized amount of up to $50,000 doubled de novo for the second time since it did not go into effect the first time it was passed by the legislature. This go-round, the bill was signed by Governor Rick Perry in June and was effective immediately.
Staff information to the Sugar Land City Council said that in 2009, after changes to Texas legislation at that time, the City Council approved an ordinance for the increase to $50,000. But, it said that the section of the Texas Local Government Code on change orders did not change. So, the maximum amount remained what it had been until now.
Change orders, by the way, are both for increasing or decreasing the amount of a contract awarded by a city as per state statute. Typically a change order means a necessary change in the plans or specifications or a necessary decrease or increase in the quantity of work to be performed or of materials, equipment, or supplies to be furnished, after a contract has been awarded.
Recently, city council members in Missouri City wrestled over a change order relating to the city’s surface water treatment plant under construction. Some maintained that it could have been best handled as a bid since the work termed a change order was considered to be outside of the original scope of an awarded project albeit related to it. It turned out, however, that the change order allowed for cost savings negotiations to the benefit of the city, and ultimately the taxpayers.