Saturday, September 6, 2008

Council approves paving Kamiskotia Highway

Timmins city council wasted no time this week dipping into the new $4 million bag of money handed over by the province for local infrastructure improvements.
Council met for a special meeting Wednesday afternoon to approve the spending of $1.7 million to do a once-and-for-all paving job on the Kamiskotia Highway.
And even though the vote was unanimous, some city councillors were alarmed and angry at how high the cost of asphalt has risen over the summer, allegedly in response to the higher cost of oil.
Council’s decision on the roadwork followed a presentation by city engineer Luc Duval who outlined that with savings from the current road program and adding money from the new provincial grant, the city can finally do a decent paving job on the full stretch of the Kamiskotia highway all the way to Leclair Avenue.
Part of the savings will come from canceling the $100,000 paving job for Legion Drive, since a review of that job indicates it will cost far more than $100,000. At the urging of John Curley, council committed to making that a priority job for next year.
The breakdown for the Kamiskotia highway job is as follows. There was $700,000 budgeted for work on it this year. The city has $400,000 it can re-assign from savings in other roadwork this year. The city adds $600,000 to the Kamiskotia project from the provincial grant received last week. Total cost = $1.7 million. Duval explained that he wanted to get the work done while the city is able to take advantage of a five-year price deal it had with Miller Paving, to buy asphalt at $89 per tonne, but he said the city also has to pay a new surcharge.
Council was told that due to the higher price of oil, Miller Paving instituted a surcharge of roughly $26 per tonne to push the price of asphalt up to $115 per tonne.
This angered council’s financial watchdog, councillor Denis Saudino, since the invoice for the extra surcharge arrived in August, long after the asphalt had been laid down on other road jobs. The extra cost was several thousands of dollars.
Both Duval and city administrator Joe Torlone explained that even with the surcharge, the Miller price was still a bargain, since the price was negotiated five years ago. Torlone said the city was aware that a surcharge might be applied since it was part of the original contract.
Saudino said he was upset that asphalt was supplied, and roadwork was done without Miller giving any up-front notice of the price change. He said it was unfair.
He said he was also upset that city staff seemed unaware of the price change until the bill arrived and it was too late to argue the point or at least negotiate.
“I think the supplier should have given us a heads-up. They knew the price when they were laying it down. Or they should have known the price.” Saudino told The Timmins Times.
“They buy their stuff in advance, right, so they know the cost of their stuff on hand,” he said. “So I mean if there’s a difference in the cost, they should warn their customers and the city of Timmins is one of their customers,” Saudino added.
“And for us not to know the price before we receive it, I think that’s not good business,” he said.
City councillor Bill Gvozdanovic suggested the Kamiskotia paving job at the bargain price, was “a no brainer”. He also suggested that council refrain from negative comments about Miller Paving lest the price of asphalt get any higher.

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