Archive for Thursday, October 19, 2000

Council at odds with water district officials

October 19, 2000

Normally mundane items like easements, waterlines and sewers took on a new light Monday night as members of the Basehor City Council exchanged barbs with a representative of Rural Water District No. 1.

An audience of 20 people attended the lengthy meeting that also included Mayor John Pfannenstiel casting the tie-breaking vote on a seemingly-controversial change order.

A disagreement between the city and water district fired up early as Lois Fulkerson, manager of the district, addressed the council and took exception to comments made at last month's meeting.

During discussion in September, members of the council were upset by a $4,287.95 change order for running sewer lines because of confusion over the placement of water lines belonging to the district. A lift station had to be moved because it would have been too close to the water line, according to the water district.

Fulkerson said it was not the water district's responsibility to chart their easements and legally, the district could not be held responsible for any of the costs involved.

"The water district wants an apology from the engineer or from the city. Everything we have done has been in accordance with protocol," Fulkerson said.

Project engineer Brian Kingsley was in attendance and explained some of the problems with the sewer project, especially concerning the conflicts with the rural water district.

While no action was taken on Fulkerson's complaint, there were some pointed jabs near the end of the discussion.

Councilman Burl Gratny said, "Anytime Brian has tried to work with you (the water district) he's come home like a beat dog."

Fulkerson countered, "I'm not sure why the water district keeps getting blamed for things like this."

She added, "I'm not paid $100,000 to go to the courthouse and research easements. It's not our responsibility to do your research for you."

Later in the meeting, the council again had to consider change orders for the sewer plant, including the addition of as much as 60 days for the completion of the project. A controversy with the water district again surfaced with a change order for the installation of a water main that will run from 158th Street and Willow, south to the treatment facility.

Two of the contractors on the project, Miles Excavating and Carrothers Construction, submitted bids. City Superintendent Gene Myracle had also received a bid of $3,200 from unnamed local workers. The council was informed that since the work would affect the water district, its board would have to approve the contractor and the only company they had approved was Miles Excavating.

Pfannenstiel said the board had two options, to accept the $7,500 bid of Miles or submit an alternative to the water board, which would not meet until Nov. 7.

The council was warned that a three-week wait could further delay the project and would pose the risk of running into bad weather, which could lengthen the project more. Fulkerson twice tried to address the council, but was ruled out of order by Pfannenstiel.

After lengthy debate, Pfannenstiel said, "This is quite an ordeal for 200 feet of water line."

Gratny finally made a motion to accept the bid of Miles Excavating.

"Considering the cost of the project, $3,500 could seem like peanuts compared to the potential lost time," Gratny said.

The motion died for a lack of second.

After rehashing the debate, Councilman Victor Ziegler remade the motion to accept the Miles bid and Gratny seconded. The two voted for the motion, but Councilmen Chris Garcia and Robert Vervaecke voted no. Councilman Joseph Odle was absent. Pfannenstiel broke the tie, voting to award the bid to Miles Excavating.

In total, the council voted for change orders totaling over $40,000 and giving contractors an additional 60 days to complete the project.

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