The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Baltimore:
Contractors Get the Money

Aug 1, 2016

There have been 375 cost overruns, running into the millions of dollars, on Baltimore’s infrastructure projects over the last four years, according to a recent report. These cost overruns come out of the pockets of Baltimoreans.

And the extra money is not a small amount. On the 14 million dollar contract to fix the Pennington Avenue Bridge in Curtis Bay, the cost ended up almost double, 26 million dollars. Another example was the water main break at Mount Royal Avenue downtown, where the original bid was 10 million dollars, and the fix ended up costing Baltimoreans a total of 26 million dollars.

In the past, city workers, with somewhat decent pay and benefits, were used to make repairs to infrastructure. But now the practice is to contract out to companies who use low-wage workers.

The city pretended it would be cheaper. It’s not. Profit is built in when private contractors are used. In fact, a sort of game goes on between contractors and governments, in which all the bids are low – making it seem cheaper. But then they find all kinds of problems, problems that will cost more money to fix.

It means that contractors love doing work for governments because they can always demand more money when the projects run into problems, as they often do.

These kinds of contracts don’t mean what is usually meant by the word “contract.” Today’s contractors are not obliged to fulfill a legal contract. They face no penalties, so they can continue their profitable schemes at our expense. And they do.