Town makes payment, but reluctantly

Witless Bay councillors unhappy with quality of Southside Track work

Witless Bay Town council has moved to deal with two invoices it inherited from the old council with the hope of squashing the amounts owed to two companies for infrastructure work done on Southside Track.

Council approved two motions to pay engineering and construction firms WSP and Dexter Construction outstanding invoices which totalled $117,542, including an outstanding amount for interest. However, council held back over $30,000 due to what it perceives as inadequacies in the work completed by the two firms.

Finance committee chairperson Lucy Carew made the motion to approve the payment of the nearly year overdue invoice to WSP — with a stipulation.

“The interest on this alone is $5,874.20,” said Carew. “My recommendation was to make them an offer and say, ‘Hey, we’ll give you, ($44,220.68).’ That’s minus the interest.”

Carew later explained the project was to upgrade the existing roadway to include grading and paving as well as add new drainage including catch basins and culverts. Carew said a number of deficiencies in the work were identified, including poor drainage on the roadway as well as the contamination of a resident’s well. Despite those problems, Carew was adamant that council should pay the existing invoice, minus the interest, and wash their hands of the bill.

“The longer we wait, the longer that we disagree or discuss it or whatever, the interest goes on, the bill goes higher and higher,” said Carew.

Councillor Neil Stratton disagreed with Carew, insisting council shouldn’t pay for work done in the town that council would consider deficient.

“If they admit and say that there’s a deficiency, wouldn’t it go back to them, who originally did it, to fix it?” asked Stratton.

“They don’t admit a deficiency and the problem we have is we have no idea what went on when we weren’t on council,” responded Carew.

Debate continued with councillor Fraser Paul making a similar but slightly diverging suggestion to handle the amount owed and address the perceived deficiencies.

“My opinion is that we send an e-mail back to WSP stating we’re requesting that the interest be dropped, and we hold back 20 per cent of the $44,000 for their screw up that caused us to go to another engineer and to a surveyor,” said Paul.

“I agree with Fraser,” said Stratton. “Why pay for something that’s a poor quality job and not complete? That doesn’t make sense.”

Councillor Vince Swain asked if council could proceed with Paul’s suggestion, but Deputy Mayor Maureen Murphy sided with Carew on the issue. Town Clerk Geraldine Caul pointed out that if council continued to delay on the matter, the outstanding amount would end up before the courts. Carew’s motion was called to a vote with Paul and Stratton both voting against the motion to pay WSP the outstanding amount minus interest.

Carew than made a motion that the Town pay the $66,601 bill owed to Dexter, holding back some $26,601 for the resident’s well on Southside Track which became contaminated.

“I move that the Town pay $40,000 for work done on the Southside Track, and hope that they say your bill is free,” said Carew. The motion passed unanimously.

“We’ve got those debts, we have to pay them,” observed Mayor Rene Estrada after both motions passed.

Posted on May 22, 2018 .