The engineering company working with the city of Flandreau will earn an additional estimated $75,000 because of delays in the city water and sewer project expected to be finished by the end of September.
Shane Waterman, engineering manager with Clark Engineering, requested the additional payment, which will be based on an hourly rate that could add up to that total, because the company has had to continue working on the First Avenue project long after it was supposed to be completed by the contractor, H&W out of Sioux Falls. The additional expenses started for any days beyond July 25, one of the first deadlines. That deadline moved back as changes have been made in the contracted work.
Alderman Jason Unger said the request for more money is essentially a penalty against the city for work that hasn’t been completed by the contractor even though Clark was hired to be responsible for the project administration and the delays should have been avoided.
“The city did nothing wrong here,” Unger said.
Waterman said the delays left both the city and Clark vulnerable. “We also could have been working on another project somewhere else,” he said. If the work is done sooner than expected, the additional fee will be less.
Alderman Dan Sutton said he is frustrated that after all of the delays in the project, the engineering company is asking for more money when some things could have been handled better during the project.
“The only one who seems have skin in the game and has to pay is the city of Flandreau,” Sutton said. “The only ones who are sacrificing here are the taxpayers of the city of Flandreau.”
H&W was allowed to continue with the project even when things weren’t getting done, Sutton said. “We don’t even know if we’re going to get done yet.”
Council members approved the request on a 4-2 vote with Unger and Sutton voting against it.
Waterman said he tries to keep dangling a carrot in front of the contractor but as the engineering company, Clark can’t tell the contractor when to do something. Instead, the engineer is there to observe and make sure the job is done correctly and taxpayers are getting good work for the money being spent.
H&W did not have paving done in the area of the school by the time classes started last week, even though that had been the goal. The middle school parking lot was closed, as a result of delays. But work had started on the east side of the school and later last week on the south side west of the aquatic center on First Avenue.
The contractor, H&W, will pay $1,650 a day in liquidated damages until the entire project is done, estimated to be a total of about $50,000, Waterman said.
City administrator Jeff Pederson said when Waterman and he met with the contractor, they left the meeting with a strong sense that work would have started the Friday before school.
“Shane came on very strong last Friday about the importance of paving,” Pederson said at the Aug. 20 city council meeting. “This shouldn’t have happened. And we once again shouldn’t find us in this situation with this contractor.”
If the opening of school on Aug. 22 wasn’t important enough for the contractor to get work done on time, he doesn’t know what would be, he said.
“Every day beyond the negotiated completion date, we’re being damaged for sure,” he said. “We are incurring additional expenses … not to mention the disruption to the community, the good will and the public confidence in the city. That disturbs the heck out of me.
“We’re still not seeing critical performance happening at critical times,” Pederson told council members. “It’s not what the community deserves, and it’s certainly not what all of us and all of you intended to happen.”
At this point, H&W hasn’t asked the city for any more payments toward their bill. The council also talked about whether to fire the company but at this point, the end of the project is near.
Sutton said he is disappointed that work near the school wasn’t done as promised, disrupting the students’ return to classes this fall.
“I don’t think this council has wavered on that being the high priority,” he said.
“We should have never gotten to this point.”
In other city business,
•A city-wide cleanup, in which the local South Dakota National Guard unit will haul away junk, is scheduled for Sept. 16. Because that date is a Sunday, the Guard members will haul from areas around the churches before services start, Pederson said.
Hazardous waste, along with other items, aren’t accepted during the cleanup, but Pederson said he wants to set up an area where people can bring those items as an exchange program. If someone had a half can of thinner or paint, for example, someone else might be able to use it.
The exchange would require space and supervision, but it is a good way to recycle, Pederson said. “It saves money, and it saves on the environment.”
• Sutton, with the 150th anniversary committee, asked the council for an additional $5,000 so the group could start putting down deposits on vendors. The city previously allocated $2,500 this year. He said the committee also will need another $7,500 next year for a total of $15,000 from the city. All council member, including Sutton, voted in favor of the allocation.
•The council unanimously approved a grant agreement with the state for money to build a second safe house. The project is planned at Prospect and Crescent. The city will be able to use the blueprints it has for a shelter previously built at Cedar and Broad.
The grants are competitive and there are more applicants than money available, said Alderman Don Whitman.