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Slow contractor could cost Colfax $20,000 more in engineering fees

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX — Because the contractor for the Fourth Avenue project is taking such a long time to finish the work, the delay could end up costing Colfax almost $20,000 more in engineering fees.

Lisa Fleming, a civil engineer with Ayres Associates, spoke to the Colfax Village Board at the June 8 meeting to ask for $18,000 more in engineering fees for the Fourth Avenue street project.

“Unfortunately, the contractor has not worked very fast in the last two months. He has finally managed to get all of the underground in. He does not work every day, five days a week. He doesn’t work Fridays. We don’t charge for days they don’t work. But they just are not very speedy at putting stuff in the ground,” Fleming said.

The contractor, R.M. Schlosser Excavating out of Durand, was supposed to complete the Fourth Avenue project last fall, but the project ended up being delayed until this spring.

Schlosser was awarded the low bid of $336,767 for the Fourth Avenue project.

Man hours

The original contract for engineering services with Ayres Associates was for 150 man hours, but Ayres is up to 280 man hours, and the company could end up putting in another 40 or 50 hours, Fleming said.

Therefore, Ayres Associates is requesting an additional $18,000, she said.

“They don’t install their water mains as fast as we thought they would. They are slow at it,” Fleming said.

Although the Fourth Avenue project has had some delays because of rain, the project also has been delayed because the contractor does not work on Fridays, she noted.

In fact, the contractor might decide not to work on any given day of the week, Fleming said.

“This morning was a good example. We were all set to come. A guy was in the truck in our parking lot when Schlosser called and said they’re not working today,” she said.

The days off because of rain and because the contractor chooses not to work do not increase the engineering costs because Ayres does not charge for time that engineers are not on the job, Fleming explained.

The increased cost for engineers comes in because the contractor works slower and takes longer, she said.

June 18 deadline

The completion date for the Fourth Avenue project is June 18.

“Are you telling the board they are not going to be done on (June 18)?” asked Mark Halpin, village trustee.

Fleming said she has seen a lot get done in 10 days.

“Do I think this contractor will get it done? No … not to say it couldn’t be done by (June 18),” Fleming said.

If the project is not done by June 18, Colfax can collect “liquidated damages” amounting to $500 per day that the project goes over the specified completion date.

“This is the first time we’ve heard it’s so far behind contract, it is costing the village money. The board did not know it would cost almost $20,000 because of that contractor,” said Scott Gunnufson, village president.

The engineering services are a contractual obligation for the village, Fleming said.

“If the board feels there is no wiggle room, and the answer is zero, I have to do some very serious cutting back of what I’m going to do out in the field with my time out there,” she said.

Good faith

Gunnufson said he was asking Ayres to proceed in good faith and to get the project done.

When the project is finished, then Ayres can determine precisely how many extra hours the engineers worked, and the village will know how much was collected in liquidated damages, if anything, Gunnufson said.

“If Lisa is not here, can we trust the contractor?” Halpin asked.

“I’m not threatening to not be here. It’s just that if, in fact, the board says there is no more money coming, I have to look out for my company and minimize our costs. We’ll still be here to do the critical things. But maybe not as in depth as we would have otherwise,” Fleming said.

The Colfax Village Board unanimously approved a motion to put the Ayres’ request for additional compensation on the village board’s agenda after the Fourth Avenue street project has been completed.

Other business

In other business, the Colfax Village Board:

• Approved a Class “B”/ “Class B” retailer’s license for Tammy Briggs for the Colfax Softball Association for July 31 to August 2 for the Keck benefit.

• Learned that Sally Johnson donated flowers for the flagpole area at the Colfax Rescue Squad in memory of her husband, Pete Johnson.

• Approved a pay request for the Fourth Avenue street project in the amount of $81,964.44.

• Approved a change order for the Fourth Avenue project resulting in a $10,921 credit for the village for using the village’s fill instead of bringing in new gravel.

• Approved disbursing $1,500 in budgeted funds to the Colfax youth softball/baseball program.

• Approved placing on the agenda for the Colfax Village Board’s June 22 meeting consideration of the East View residential community flyer, consideration of the East View developer’s agreement, and consideration of the application form to purchase a village-owned residential lot in the East View development. A plan commission meeting was scheduled prior to the June 8 village board meeting to review the flyer, developer’s agreement and application form, but there was no quorum for the plan commission, so the plan commission was unable to make a recommendation to the village board.