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Sewage plant delays prompt city to give engineer authority

Spurred by a double hit of surprise delays on the Karcher Creek Sewage Treatment Plant expansion, the Port Orchard City Council on Monday voted to give limited change order approval authority to city engineer Larry Curles.

Until Monday, the city council had to approve all change orders that might crop up during a construction project. However, because the council only meets twice a month, that could mean the workers would sit around for up to two weeks waiting for permission to continue.

Curles asked to council to give him the authority to send the workers back to the job site immediately and have the council formally approve the order at the next council meeting.

Such a move, Curles said, would save the city thousands of dollars it was paying people to literally do nothing.

“There’s a half-million dollar sewer main project going right now,” Curles pointed out. “Please don’t make me do construction without direction on change orders.”

Work on the sewage plant project has been stopped since last week, when workers found a skeleton that was identified as Native-American.

Work will not be allowed to begin until an archaeologist approves the site as clear of other artifacts — a process that could takes days if not weeks.

Although its unlikely crews will find more unmarked graves in the shoulder of Port Orchard Boulevard, where a new sewer main is going in, Curles said he wasn’t prepared to takes any chances.

For the most part, the council members seemed to agree with him.

“Delaying this project for 10 days will chew up any money we could potentially save,” said Councilman John Clauson. “I have a lot of faith in Mr. Curles.”

Councilwoman Rita DiIenno raised the only objections to the move.

She said she didn’t feel comfortable voting on a rather major reversal of the city’s change order policy with absolutely no advance notice or review period. DiIenno asked that the council hold the matter over until its next regular meeting to allow the request to be properly researched.

“I don’t see the urgency this evening that (prevents) further study,” she said.

The rest of the council, however, apparently felt the city could not afford to wait and approved Curles’ request by a vote of 5-1.

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