As the Waste Water Treatment Plant project reaches 84 days past the contracted end date, Water and Sewer Committee recommended Sidney City Council pursue liquidated damages as of Sept. 27, although damages could be pursued as far back as Aug. 4. The matter was discussed during the regular council meeting on Nov. 4.

“We opted to impose liquidated damages on COP Construction for only the amount of time of one month, even though they are, as of today, four months overdue,” said Jeff Hintz, director of public works.

The recommendation was based on fewer days because the city has already approved two amendments that allowed overage payments to the engineers to be withheld from payments to COP.

A letter from COP to City Council asking for a reconsideration was reviewed. Engineer Laura Gundlach with Morrison-Maierle provided some insight about the letter.

“The original contract time was for 200 days,” she said. “When they sign a contract for a certain amount of days, that includes time for weather, time for lost time, it includes everything.”

In the letter, COP stated the “issues that were the fault of our team were dealt with promptly, professionally, and full responsibility was taken.”

The letter continues, “There were two major areas of construction that impacted the overall schedule. The first was the construction of the Lift Station. The LIft Station base slab had to be removed and replaced due to a mistake made by COP Construction which was brought to the attention of the engineer and the City of Sidney during routine construction progress meetings.”

Gundlach didn’t think COP’s reasonings were enough to drop the damages.

“They stated that they made a mistake and then they fixed it,” she said. “I don’t think they should be rewarded for that either way.”

The second schedule impact brought forth in the letter from COP was concerning the outfall structure in the Yellowstone River. A change order was discussed before city council and agreed to previously. COP claims there were unintended schedule impacts as a result that pushed the project into winter.

Gundlach said part of those issues were their choice and 30 days were given in the change order for that work.

Weather concerns were also addressed, with Gundlach again emphasizing a shut-down request could be made and it was ultimately COP’s choice.

“I don’t know if any of those things really hold merritt,” Gundlach said. “Of course, it is up to the city whether they want to impose the liquidated damages. But the arguments they bring up in that letter don’t really hold any weight in my mind.”

With that, City Council carried a motion to accept the recommendation of the Water and Sewer Committee to pursue liquidated damages against COP Construction.

In other news

Chief of Police Frank DiFonzo gave his October report to council, which states 51 arrests, 152 traffic/criminal citations, 11 DUIs, and 730 calls for service.

Public Works October report stated 256 hours of street repair, 26.5 hours of alley repair, 101.5 hours of street sweeping and 57 hours of snow removal.

Mayor Rick Norby updated council about the public hearing in Helena on Oct. 29 before the Public Service Commission about the closure of the Lewis and Clark Station. He was proud of the amount of people who attended and is hopeful about the future.

Norby called for interested applicants for Ward 2 to submit letters of interest no later than Nov. 30. Term will begin Jan. 1, 2020.

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