EXTRA SERVICE CHARGES GO UNQUESTIONED

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BY CALEB ALEXANDER

          Services provided by professional trades firms do not come cheaply, especially for towns like New Baden which is shelling out tens of thousands of dollars to have sewer lines examined by video.

          Haier Plumbing & Heating from Breese has been doing this work which cost the village $72,000-plus already then another $5600 was tacked on and approved by the Village Board without question during a meeting this month.

          Telling the board the details about this project was Justin Vonder Haar from HMG Engineers. He said he had to admit he was trusting Haier to be fair and accurate when it comes to the extra charges.

          Haier was in town around two or three weeks running cameras through sewer lines and discovering a half dozen locations where tree roots created interference and blockages with the flow.

          The itemized list of extras Haier charged the village for was based on having to clean out some of the sewers so the video camera could be run through them. They used a “big vac truck” and “camera ambulance” for this extra work over a stretch of six days spread out between November 20 and December 10.

          Vonder Haar said he recognized that the extra charges from Haier were based on work they did that was beyond the services they bid on originally but no one on the village board had any comments or questions about it. He said HMG, the village’s engineering firm, did not have anyone around to monitor what Haier was doing at the time.

          What extra charges came from Haier stand for around an extra eight hours, he said. He added this seems reasonable to him. This comes to $700 an hour.

          What the board also approved beyond the fees in the change order was an amount of over $72,000      referred to as Pay Request #1 for the project, meaning there is more to come but that represents the bulk of the cost.

          Haier did not finish the project because they ran into those places in the lines where the roots made it impossible to proceed. There are three spots where the blockage was 100 per cent, Vonder Haar said.

          This means those blockages have to be cleared out before the videoing can move ahead, something that will cost even more money. The video camera work is being done to check for cracks and leaks in the lines that will need to be repaired. There are at least three other locations where the blockage is over 75 per cent.

          Vonder Haar recommended, and the board went along with it, to have Haier clear out those roots blocking the lines rather than getting some other firm to do it. He said as far as he knows, the village does not have the equipment for this kind of work either.

          With Haier cleaning out the roots, it will simplify the rest of the process for them to complete the videoing work, according to Vonder Haar, since they know these locations. He said he talked to a company named Viggo Sewer in St. Louis that would charge $4200 a day for this kind of work. But when he asked them how much cleaning of roots they could do in a day’s time, they said it depended on the situation without being any more specific than that.

          Vonder Haar said he guesses Haier would charge between $3000 and $4500 for the same work but if it turns out to be more, he would get Viggo to do it.

The videos done by Haier revealed some places where the pipes making up the sewer lines there totally collapsed, Vonder Haar said, and some pipe will need to be repaired or replaced.  

           “By videoing such a large area, you guys are on the right path to seeing and finding a lot of things that need to be addressed and should improve your system,” Vonder Haar said to the board members.

Caleb Alexander

Caleb Alexander

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