Post-Irma Park Repairs Subject To Audit In The Keys

May 2, 2019

A $7.9 million project to upgrade a county park on Stock Island was a couple weeks out from completion when Hurricane Irma tore across the Lower Keys in September 2017.

The damage caused by the hurricane extended that work for almost a year, but the project was completed and Monroe County held a ribbon-cutting last August.

Now the Monroe County clerk has issued an audit report on the project. Among the conclusions:

  • The contractor, Burke Construction Group, told its insurer that the cost of repairing hurricane damage was more than $1 million more than what it told the county.
  • The county's project management department and the internal auditors could not confirm the actual cost of the repairs.
  • The county should seek reimbursement from Burke for more than $17,000 in electrical bills during the post-hurricane repair project.

The auditors also recommended that the county consider putting Burke under suspension for consideration of future projects, and that it tighten up its risk management procedures.

In response, Burke's attorney, David R. Elder, wrote that the project was only insured because Burke extended the insurance policy before the storm at its own cost, which "saved Monroe County from a financial disaster."

He wrote that the county issued a certificate of substantial completion and made final payment "without paying a dollar more as a result of Hurricane Irma damage."

And he wrote that if the county tries to get the money back for the electric bills, Burke would seek more than $50,000 it paid for water during the same period.