PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — The head of Portland’s Sewer Bureau is being put on administrative leave following a KOIN 6 News investigation that revealed severe cost overruns, questionable spending and a possible conflict of interest in the construction of an office building for the Bureau of Environmental Services.
That environmentally friendly building in North Portland was originally supposed to cost about $3 million. But the KOIN 6 News investigation revealed the final cost was more than $12 million, and there was no public discussion about the rising price tag.
The investigation revealed much of the extra cost was due to a lack of understanding about how to take on such a unique project and spending on high-end materials.
The KOIN 6 News investigation sparked a city audit, which was just released
After seeing conclusions of the audit, City Commissioner Nick Fish told KOIN 6 News he put the bureau’s director, Dean Marriott, on paid leave and ordered an outside investigation.
“The fact it was three times over budget bothers me as commissioner in charge, that bothers me as a resident, that bothers me as a rate payer,” Fish said.
Fish was not in charge of the Bureau of Environmental Services at the time the building was approved and constructed. Commissioner Dan Saltzman was in charge at that time.
Jim Hagerman will be the acting bureau director, Fish announced.
The audit highlighted one big finding: the architect the city hired to oversee the budget also worked for the architectural firm that designed the building while it was being built.
The outside investigation will be conducted by Ed Harnden and Paula Barran of the Barran Lieberman law firm. It’s expected the investigation will be complete by the end of the year.