Archive for Thursday, September 17, 2009

Project mistakes incite controversy, cause council members to wonder who’s to blame

September 17, 2009

A highly anticipated project in Edwardsville is complete, but now the city is facing a $75,226.07 bill in additional expenses, and some City Council members want to know who’s at fault.

At Monday’s meeting, City Administrator Michael Webb announced to council members a change order was necessary for the phase-one improvements to Woodend Road, which is a project that began in May 2008 and was completed in August 2009.

McAnany Construction, the firm handling the project, has requested a change order to compensate for project bond costs at $9,917 and for price increases in asphalt costs at $65,309.07.

“I’ve been hearing this all night,” said council member Mark Bishop about the change order. “Before we do any more construction in this town, I don’t want to hear this again. I want to know whose fault it is. What was heard all night, it was a matter of circumstances, but I don’t want to hear that anymore. When we do a project, we need to do it right or hire someone else. This is my money and everyone’s money in this room. We don’t have a lot, so we have to do with what we got.”

Webb said there was no doubt the project was mismanaged and said a lack of communication between contractors, engineers and the city might have led to many of the delays and problems that plagued the project.

The $65,309.07 overage for asphalt, Webb said, is a result of a combination of issues. When the project was let to bid, the contract had locked the city in at an asphalt price of $39.50 per ton until August 2008. Because of delays related to weather and utilities that weren’t moved in a timely fashion, the project was pushed into a time period when asphalt prices skyrocketed between $47 and $50 per ton.

“We hated that it took so long to get the job done, but it was out of our control,” said Pat McAnany, owner of McAnany Construction. “It’s a horrible timing, and the delays pushed us into the worst possible time as far as prices (for asphalt).”

For most council members, the question of why the moving of utilities took so long and who was in charge of keeping that schedule was the biggest concern.

“I understand their problem,” Bishop said of the bad timing of the project. “What I want to get to the bottom of is if the utility company is at fault, we lean on them. I understand moving utilities is a pain in the neck. We’ve got maybe 14 different electric companies in this town. I just want to know why the project was delayed. If we’re going to pay this money out to McAnany, we should get reimbursed by the utility company and whoever else is involved to get the project done.”

As for the $9,917 portion of the change order for a bond cost, Webb said that came from a mistake made during the bid process. When signing the contract, the city asked for the line item for an onsite field office and laboratory to be removed because City Hall was so closely located to the project that engineers and inspectors could use City Hall facilities.

Now, Webb said, McAnany Construction is saying the bond cost had been included in that deleted line item, and now money is due.

The total cost of the project came in at $1,293,532 before the change order. Originally, $1,302,962 had been budgeted, leaving $32,608 left for the project. That money could be used toward the change order, leaving the city with a balance of $42,618.

The council decided to approve, 5-0, to pay McAnany for the completed construction in the amount of $1,293,532. The issue regarding the change order was delayed, 5-0, for further consideration until the next meeting, Monday, Sept. 28.

In other business Monday, the council:

• Approved, 5-0, minutes from the Aug. 24 meeting.

• Payment of bills totaling $291,280.82.

• Approved, 5-0, the naming of the cemetery located west of Williamson Farms in Edwardsville. The name will be “Edwardsville Stoney Point” cemetery.

John Kindred, president of the Edwardsville Cemetery Board, presented the proposed name to the council, explaining how the idea came about.

In the cemetery, which is a historic site where the black residents of Edwardsville were once buried, Kindred said he found the headstone of Claiborne Cannon, who was a Civil War veteran. After doing research into Cannon’s life, Kindred discovered a card from Cannon’s family requesting a military headstone from the federal government. On the card, the family said the location Cannon was to be buried was “Stoney Point Cemetery in Edwardsville, Kan.”

“It makes sense,” Kindred said. “It’s a pretty area with a lot of rocks and stones. I can see where someone would have called it that.”

• Heard a report from Webb regarding the upcoming sales tax election. He said Edwardsville would be partnering with the Unified Government of Kansas City, Kan./Wyandotte County for the Nov. 3 election. There will be one polling place in the city for residents to vote, which will be located in the Edwardsville Community Center, 696 S. 3rd St.

Residents of Edwardsville will have the opportunity to decide if they agree with 0.5 percent increase, setting the city’s sales tax at 7.8 percent.

Webb said this increase was expected to generate about $150,000 to $170,000 in addition annual income for the city.

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