Doug Hastings: Money down the drain | TheUnion.com

Doug Hastings: Money down the drain

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Doug Hastings

Regarding the story in The Union entitled, "Pipeline project stalled," ­can this be true or is our wonderful Grass Valley newspaper just kidding us?

Work on the new sewage connection in the Penn Valley area is at a standstill, leading the county officials to say it could cost $100,000 alone in lost time fees before construction can resume.

The project started in September of 2016 and at that time the cost estimate was around $6 million. We all know that contractors need an edge when dealing with a bureaucracy such as counties, cities, etc. But this is unbelievable.

How could our Board of Supervisors approve a ridiculous contract such as this?

How could they vote all these contingencies into a contract? I guess the county just said to them, “Sign here.”

Beginning around $6 million, it has now risen to $7.2 million because of additional work required to remove rock the contractor found near Pleasant Valley Road and Highway 20. The total price of the project climbs to about $9 million when environmental review, design, construction management and construction are added. Overall we are looking at $1.2 million in rock work. About $200,000 of the $1.2 million will come from the project's contingency fund. The remaining money will come from the project's fund balances of the three areas, all of which have their own sewage systems impacted by the project (Lake Wildwood, Penn Valley and Valley Oak Court).

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The county public works department said they wanted the supervisors to quickly address the problem as the county pays the contractor $5,000 a day when no work is done, a situation currently happening. If the contractor removes his equipment and then returns, it's another $50,000.

Even with the supervisors' unanimous approval to provide the $1.2 million, it will take another two to three weeks for the workers to mobilize, officials said. "Another $100,000 of just sitting there," Supervisor Ed Scofield said. "Ouch."

The project is almost four and a half miles of pipe that links the lift station on Spenceville Road to the Lake Wildwood wastewater treatment plant on Pleasant Valley Road, Penn Valley's sewage flows end at a leech field. The new pipeline will bring its sewage to the treatment plant, which is receiving significant improvements as part of the project.

Again, I say, who are these people we call our supervisors? Did I actually vote for them? How could they vote all these contingencies into a contract?

I guess the county just said to them, "Sign here."

The contractor won this one. Was I the only person who read this article?

Doug Hastings lives in Nevada City.

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