City will not pay additional money for street improvement project

COLUMBIANA – The city will not be paying an additional $13,500 for the South Main Street improvement project.

Fisher Engineering, the company hired for the $1.3 million project on a $119,387 contract last year, requested the money as a result of the project surpassing the original end date.

On Jan. 18 company owner Mark Fisher sent a letter to Mayor David Spatholt and council members explaining the request.

What caused the delay was not mentioned in the letter, although Spatholt believed it could have been attributed in part to new light poles arriving later than anticipated.

More money is needed, Fisher said, because the project ended up costing more than was originally anticipated and the company needed to be paid for the additional seven weeks the project required.

He said in the two-page letter his fee structure for the improvement project was based on the original construction estimate, which was $1.34 million.

The city accepted his fee proposal, based on that cost, and then changed portions of the project resulting in a new cost estimate of $1.45 million, he said.

Although aware of the cost increase, he felt he didn’t need to change the bid price ($1.39 million) because while lower than the cost estimate it was still 4 percent over the original estimate.

As work got under way on the project last summer he realized it was more “complex” than anticipated, he wrote.

“As the project progressed, Fisher Engineering Associates made every effort to keep inspection and project managements costs to a minimum.

Yet despite every attempt to work within the project budget, this became impossible because project management duties were required for the actual 28 week construction duration.

The project originally called for 21 weeks of construction.

“As the scope and cost of the project increased, my duties as project manager also increased,” he said.

His request came after the city already used the federal grant funding awarded for the project, and spent the 20 percent, $275,000, it was responsible for.

With no more grant funding available, the money would come solely from the city’s funds and council members and Spatholt agreed it shouldn’t be paid.

They also questioned why Fisher did not make the request sooner.

Fisher wrote in the letter that he made the request “shortly after realizing that funds for the construction engineering services were practically exhausted.”

Councilman Lowell Schloneger moved that the city not spend the money and the motion passed unanimously.