Mayoral challenger I. Charles Mathews blasted Eddie A. Perez Wednesday, blaming him for millions of dollars of cost overruns at Hartford Public High School.
Mathews reacted Wednesday to a decision this week by the school building committee, with Perez as its chairman, to approve almost $500,000 in change orders and draw the project's contingency fund down to zero.
With three contractors on the project having filed claims of almost $4.5 million with the district, the project could push further over budget. The school's renovation budget now sits at $107 million, but has been going up for years. The project was to have been completed almost a year ago.
"The pool leaks. The athletic fields are not finished. And the costs keep going up," Mathews said in a statement. "With these latest revelations, the project will cost nearly 50 percent more than the original budget. It's a disgrace."
Mathews said Perez, who is at the helm of the school district, its building committee and city hall, should overcome his "inability to delegate authority" or take responsibility for problems.
"The buck has to stop with him," Mathews said.
Perez campaign manager Kenny Curran said Mathews sat on the city council when the city's schools were in desperate need of repair. Curran said a report done by architectural firm Jeter Cook and Jepson in May 2000 said that when Mathews was in office, the schools "faced deferred maintenance of crisis proportions."
Now, Curran said, Perez is fixing the problem, having overseen the construction of seven schools.
"The choice is between a candidate who is working hard to be part of the solution through the school construction projects, and another candidate who could have been a part of the solution, but failed to do so," Curran said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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