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St. Ignatius council withholds final water project payment

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ST. IGNATIUS – St. Ignatius Town Council voted May 5 to withhold final payments for a water improvement project until the contractor in charge can fix certain problems and ensure completion.

The project, started in June 2014 after significant delays, was supposed to be completed in 90 days. Almost a year later, the contracting company had asked for another 30-day extension to complete the task, which includes replacing the town’s water lines. Costs ballooned by nearly $40,000, and the town and Great West Engineering argued over who should pay because of the delays. The town relented, and agreed to the extra cost, but council member and Public Works Director Scott Morton say problems have continued. 

“I’m about to the point where (we’re not) going to give them another dime,” Mayor Charley Gariepy said. 

Public Works Director Scott Morton had a laundry list of major issues that arose during the project, including misplaced lines, inadequate road compaction testing, and people not showing up to work or working only part of the day. A number of smaller concerns have additionally come up in the final stages of the construction. 

“There are just little things they can’t do,” Morton said. “Building color is supposed to match existing. It doesn’t. They went and put rain gutters on a cream and green building, and put on a white rain gutter, when the one they drive right by has green rain gutters. They were told it has to be changed, but there it sits.” 

Morton said that if the delays are caused by the contractor, then the contractor should have to pay for the delays, per the town’s contract. Morton said he didn’t want to contract with the company in the first place, but the engineering firm threatened to sue if the town did not accept the lowest bid.

“I don’t want to give them any more money,” Council member Annie Morigeau said. “They keep asking for more … just urgh.” 

Council member Daren Incashola said withholding payment might require mediation or eventually a lawsuit. 

“But I’m not happy with this,” Incashola said. 

Morigeau commented that she did not see any judge voting in favor of the contractor or engineering company.

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