The town’s offer of $56,690 to 38 Street residents was not met with open arms.
Discrepancies in some of the local improvement in 2006 were questioned during a public meeting May 21. Calculating the refund amounts to residents took a turn as Bill Kuncio of 4015 39 Street, felt there is a discrepancy in the engineering charge.
Betty Quinlan, director of corporate services, used actual costs of 14.53 per cent of $451,214 as her basis for the refund but he said a 2008 tender provides 11 per cent as the offer, the difference was 3.5 per cent.
Finding why there is a discrepancy will take more time, Quinlan said she will need to conduct more research to find out why the estimate changed.
Councillors were unaware of the tender and Terrance Kozmech, owner of Descon Engineering, which oversaw the project, said he had no control over changes over the course of the project. “We cannot assume 11 per cent. It could be 12, 13, 14 or 15. We’re not the project managers…It’s the contractor that basically controls us in many cases.”
Nick Kohlman, advocate for 38 Street residents, has researched one project in Ponoka that was done at the same time and he found engineering costs were 10 per cent.
“The engineer quoted 10 per cent and that’s what he got paid. In this case…The quote was 11 per cent and that wasn’t followed,” stated Kohlman.
Disposal of the cold mix on the road also came into question and he believes the cold mix was not disposed of from 40 Avenue. A charge of $2,500 plus engineering was given to residents for “something that was not done.”
“I can’t say 100 per cent but we would have stockpiled it and then used it on 38 Street,” explained Kozmech.
After further questioning from Kohlman, Kozmech stated he did not have all the information to respond adequately. Kohlman feels there are some inaccuracies in road improvement charges. He expressed his frustration with town administration and Kozmech for not knowing the answers after repeated questions.
“I’m surprised at how little information you people really have,” stated Kohlman. “You say you’ve worked on this for four years?”
Coun. John Jacobs challenged Kohlman on being satisfied with the engineer’s response but not with the town. “We get our information from the engineers. I don’t have an engineering background.”
He suggests council’s job is not to micromanage every project but Kohlman feels if residents are raising questions then they have a responsibility to look into them. Jacobs agreed but also challenged Kohlman.
“But if I have somebody come to council who for the last 30 years has felt that there’s been nothing but corruption in the Town of Ponoka…Then I really have a hard time feeling if that person is somebody I should listen to,” he stated.
Peter Davis, owner of two properties on the street, 4607 and 4603 38 Street, wondered why he was charged for three sewer connections when he has only two lots. “I recently found out I had three connections installed.”
Based on a site inspection at the time from Descon Engineering, a town representative and the contractor, Kozmech felt there was a need for additional services on Davis’ lot in the event he wanted to connect directly to the sewer system.
“That’s very generous but I didn’t need it,” Davis responded.
He believed he was only being charged for a sewer line on the front of his property but Kozmech said he could not answer the question. He did supply an observation on the decision though. “Maybe our fault is and maybe administration’s fault is that maybe we’re planning for the future to allow for expansion of the community.”
Kohlman suggests charging residents for future improvements should not go directly to current residents. “I believe that’s an error and that should be reflected in this adjustment.”
He was also concerned over stub lines installed during the local improvement that residents paid for. Those improvements are meant to benefit people who have not developed yet and Kohlman took issue with that. CAO Brad Watson was only able to provide information he received from a contractor that those stub lines were installed for the ease of future expansion.
“You make a good point,” said Watson.
Residents are able to provide these and other questions to town administration by May 30. Quinlan is asked to return the answers by June 9 but depending on the quantity and type of questions she could not guarantee timely replies.
Town council will make a decision July 25.