Archive for Thursday, February 16, 2006

County tries to ease $30,000 dispute

February 16, 2006

Leavenworth County and Hamm Quarry are trying to work out a billing dispute related to work at the county's rock quarry west of Tonganoxie.

Monday afternoon, Ramon Gonzalez, sales manager for the Perry-based Hamm Quarry, met with county commissioners, county engineer Bill Green and road superintendent Mel Sewell to discuss a $30,000 bill that Hamm submitted for removal of "overburden" at the county quarry.

Hamm was awarded a $1.2 million bid last year to remove and crush rock for the county from the quarry. The rock typically fills most of the county's rock needs for three years.

The June 6, 2005, bid from Hamm states the "prices do not include any stripping of overburden."

Although the bid was awarded to Hamm, no contract ever was signed between the parties.

Representatives of Hamm had met with Sewell at the quarry before beginning any stripping, Gonzalez said.

"We didn't really talk about paying for or not paying for stripping," Gonzalez said, noting Sewell may well have not known about the stripping charge. "That meeting with Mel was more of what do we want to do, where do we want the material to go, where do we want to stockpile."

In the aftermath, the bill for the stripping - which is about two-thirds to three-fourths completed - was sent to the county.

Commission chairman Dean Oroke said the dispute included what was considered overburden, and that in the past it was Hamm's practice not to charge for the removal of shale in between layers of rock.

Gonzalez agreed about Hamm's past practices and said the dispute was "probably from a lack of communication on my part."

"You know, costs are costs," Gonzalez said. "I don't know that I need to tell you that, but it's getting to be, with fuel and everything else : it's changed dramatically what we're doing."

Commissioner Clyde Graeber noted the cost had not been included as a line item in the county's 2006 budget.

Oroke suggested the possibility of paying a $1,000 per month surcharge for quarried rock. The agreement with Hamm in the past has been that the county pay for the quarried rock as it is used, not in lump-sum fashion.

"That way it's not impacting us tremendously on the budget. It's helping you out because you don't have a contract with us. It's helping us out because we don't have a contract with you," Oroke said.

Gonzalez balked somewhat but agreed to take the proposal to his bosses for consideration.

"The basic instructions I was given when I came here was to try, let's work together, make things work," he said. "I still think three years sounds like a long time, but I may be wrong."

Green noted the county and Hamm had been partnering in the quarry for years and the county wanted to continue.

"We want to fix this now. We want to do business with you three years from now, five years from now, 10 years from now, but there's got to be give and take on this," he said.

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