Mark Smith of High Plains Enterprises spoke to the Seward County Board of Commissioners on May 28 to discuss liquidated damages for its work in the Sunrise Road box culvert project near Milford.

The county contracted with the company in 2017 to work on the project. The original contract was for $354,000 with an expected deadline of July 15, 2018.

The project has only recently been completed, almost a full year after the deadline.

Smith said the delays were because of weather and problems with personnel. After an issue with a concrete subcontractor, the company had to find another within a short time span.

“We went through a lot of concrete companies and finally just got to the point where we just tried to get somebody in there, regardless of the cost because we knew we’d run into the situation of being late,” Smith said.

Per the county’s contract, a fine of $500 was applied for every day the project remained incomplete past the June 5 deadline, which came to a total of $87,500 in late fines, according to Keim.

Keim, who became involved with the project in October 2018, said the county contracted with Speece Lewis Engineers to help with the project at an estimated cost of $34,740, but had to pay more than double because of the delays. 

“Our final engineering cost was $70,310, so we ended up paying $35,570 extra for it.” he said.

Board Chairman John Culver asked Smith what the specific request was for.

“Are you asking for a specific amount?” Culver said.

“I’m requestion they (the liquidated damages) be released and I’m asking it to be fair I guess,” Smith said. “Whatever amount you all would take into consideration on your side.”

Culver said he was unsure of what the county could do.

Keim said his recommendation to the board was against any type of reimbursement on the delay damages.

Culver, who said he lived by the culvert project, said he would often drive by and noticed there were many days when he didn’t see anyone working at the job site.

“I can’t see the county releasing anything for damages just from the way this project has gone and what we’ve had to tolerate,” Culver said.

Commissioner Mike Mundhenke said he received multiple questions and complaints from people, even before he was officially on the board.

“There are a lot of people not happy in the local area,” he said.

Both Commissioners Bob Vrbka and Ken Schmieding said they wanted more time to look at other options and discuss an alternative.

The board was to discuss the subject again at its June 4 meeting.

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