Anchorage settles multimillion-dollar lawsuit with contractor

Mayor’s administration chastised for allowing deal to go through without proper approval
Mayor’s administration chastised for allowing deal to go through without proper approval
Published: Jun. 16, 2023 at 4:43 PM AKDT|Updated: Jun. 16, 2023 at 4:44 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The city of Anchorage has made a multimillion-dollar agreement with the contractor who was in charge of building the navigation center and shelter on the corner of Tudor Road and Elmore Road in East Anchorage.

Construction at the navigation center came to a halt after the Anchorage Assembly refused to pay the contractor, Roger Hickel Contracting, Inc., for the work the company did up until that point. In order to get paid, Hickel Contracting filed a lawsuit against the municipality this past March.

On Friday, that lawsuit was settled and Hickel Contracting will receive nearly $2.5 million.

“We just opted to pay for the work that was done and, the mayor’s actions of course, caused that settlement to come outside of the tax cap,” Assembly Chair Christopher Constant said.

The Anchorage Assembly originally blocked payment to Hickel because Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration had authorized the construction to begin without Assembly approval of the expenditure. Constant and other Assembly members fear Friday’s settlement could set a precedent that the municipality will be on the hook in the future for anything a mayor might approve without their permission. That concerns assembly member George Martinez.

“Taxpayers should absolutely be upset that we spent money that was not appropriated, on a project that was not well-vetted, towards a solution that doesn’t seem like it’s going to fit with that particular plan,” Martinez said.

Martinez says this settlement should serve as a lesson learned for the newer attorneys currently working in the mayor’s administration.

“I think it sent a message to the municipal attorney’s office — who we heard from — who said they will never let this happen again while they’re on the watch,” Martinez said.

Assembly members say Roger Hickel Contracting did a similar job for the city without Assembly approval back in 2013, and now they now intend to make a list of companies that circumvent proper channels in order to avoid further incidents from happening again.