Council extends 2 firms’ contracts

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 11, 2000

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / July 11, 2000

HAHNVILLE – The St. Charles Parish Council extended the contracts by sixmonths of the two engineering firms hired in April to supervise millions of dollars in sewer improvement and public works projects.

The contract called for a possible renewal when the 80 percent point was reached in the initial contract time.

Councilman G. “Ram” Ramchandran, who voted against their hiring thefirst go-around, continued his opposition and termed the open-ended nature of their employment “atrocious.”The contracts with Hartman Engineers and Shred-Kuyrkendall and Associates were approved in a 6-2 vote Monday, with Ramchandran joined by Councilman Terry Authement, who was absent from the meeting where the firms were first hired, on the dissenting side. Councilman BarryMinnich, who voted against their initial hiring in April, was absent Monday.

Public Works/Wastewater Director Steven Fall told the council the continued employment of these firms will take the supervisory pressure off him as he searches for an in-house parish engineer.

“We continue running the ads, looking for help,” Fall said.

However, after all this time there have no applicants for the position, which prompted Councilwoman Dee Abadie to comment, “I don’t have a problem if we see an end to this.”Ramchandran commented, “This long-term expenditure is an atrocious use of public funds. We cannot sustain this kind of expenditure for one, two,three years.”Fall argued, on the other hand, that to get the same amount of work done in-house would take 18 years with his current staff or would mandate the staff hiring of 54 additional engineers to match the expertise now contracted with these two firms.

Another point of contention was the list for billable hourly rates, which each firm capped at $130 per hour.

Abadie pushed through contract amendments to limit billable hours for supervisors to 25 hours per month, which was approved 6-2, with Councilmen Ramchandran and Clayton Faucheux in opposition, and to reduce the billable hourly rate for clerical worker from $50 to $25 per hour, which met with unanimous approval.

Abadie also pushed for a more detailed accounting for time spent per project, which was approved in a 6-2 vote, with Councilmen Lance Marino and Brian Fabre voting in opposition.

The Parish Council voted April 3 to hire the engineering firms for a six- month period at a cost of $100,000 each. Shred-Kuyrkendall is managingthe $16 million in public works projects, and Hartman is managing the $41 million sewer system improvements.

During the initial transition period when Parish President Albert Laque assumed office, the same engineering firms sorted out the status of the projects.

Council observer Stanford Caillouet commented, “We need engineers to watch the engineers? We just need a good legal department to file suit when they don’t do their jobs.”

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