Thursday, February 23, 2023

Sumpter trustee criticizes ‘obscene’ cost for sewer repairs

A $24,500 pump line repair was approved by members of the Sumpter Township Board of Trustees despite the concerns of Trustee Don LaPorte who called the continued expenses at the facility "obscene."

The proposed repairs of the exit lines at the Sumpter and Willis Road pump station was brought to the attention of the board members by Township Manager Tony Burdick during the Feb. 14 meeting. Burdick told the trustees that repairs at the station were an immediate concern.

"This is something that could all of a sudden blow and be a lot worse," Burdick told the board members. "Popular opinion is that it is as close to being an emergency as it can get."

Trustee Matt Oddy questioned the repair request noting that the township had redone the whole station recently.  "I know we ended up having overages of close to $20,000," Oddy said, questioning the failure to repair the exit pumps at the time of the previous work. Burdick noted that the previous pump station project was completed in September of 2019 for a total cost of $140,000 and that there were some change orders and overrides. He said he had no directives as to the reason the current failing lines were not repaired at that time.

"There is no record of any noted deficiencies" Burdick said, referring to the engineering reports for the 2019 repairs. He said, however that a current examination "blatantly showed the issue that we didn't realize existed." He explained that two exit feedlines have developed holes and the damage is getting progressively worse. He repeated that he had no documentation for any reason the issue was not addressed during previous repairs.

LaPorte told the board members, "I about lost my mind when I saw this on the agenda." He said that he had been adamant at the time of the previous work at the station that the work should be "all encapsulated." He said previous reports during the 2019 project included change orders to replace the incoming lines and a liner because the hydrogen sulfide gas caused damage.

"And now I'm expected to believe that nobody saw two pipes that carry product out. That they were never looked at? It's another $24,500. I have to ask 'what else are you going to miss in another six months?' I am not warm and fuzzy about paying $24,500 for two exit lines."

LaPorte “strongly" suggested the board table the proposed repair "until we have a totality of all-encompassing costs and I mean everything that could come up as it relates to this hole we keep shoveling money into. It's absolutely obscene the amount of money we keep putting into this hole."

Burdick explained that the proposed contractor was not the same vendor who provided the previous repairs. 

Oddy said he wanted to ensure that the current contract for the repairs include a statement that the previous evaluation was not properly done.

"I don't know if there's a way to go back on the contractor. We have to rely on the professionals and engineers that do this work for a living. Just tell us if it is good, bad or indifferent. They should have some responsibility when they evaluate pipes and say they are stable."

Burdick explained that if the pipes were to fail, "the cost could be $1,000 a day if the pipes were inoperable."

Following lengthy discussion, the board members approved the repair to be completed by Lawrence M. Clarke, Inc. Work. LaPorte cast the lone no vote while Trustee Peggy Morgan was absent from the meeting.