By James Matthews (Local Journalism Initiative reporter)
Tulloch Engineering is requesting an additional $20,000 in project engineering fees for work at the Sedgwick Bridge in Minden Hills.
But, while council approved the coin to cover the additional engineering costs, it was decided during the regular meeting Oct. 13 that payment won’t be made until the satisfactory completion of the project.
The additional $20,000, plus HST, in engineering fees is recommended by Public Works staff to be funded through the Roads Capital Reserve. The use of funds in reserves for one-time unexpected costs helps mitigate the impact on the tax levy.
As of Dec. 31, 2021, the Roads Capital Reserve balance is about $2.3 million, with approximately $420,000 specifically earmarked for bridges.
Tulloch cites challenging soil conditions and higher than expected inflation as reasoning for this fee increase request.
“The request represents a small percentage of the overall project costs,” said Township of Minden Hills Waste Facilities manager Nikki Payne, who spoke on behalf of Public Works manager Mike Timmins.
“So it’s the opinion of staff that this is a reasonable request.”
Payne said there’s been good overall progress at Sedgwick Bridge, even though the project is about two weeks behind schedule. The superstructure has been installed and concrete wing walls have been poured.
Guard rails still need to be installed and road grading on its approaches needs to be completed. Paving may be pushed to spring of 2023, weather permitting.
Work on the bridge is expected to be finished in November.
This has been the only request for additional funds thus far for this project and the request represents a small percentage of the overall project cost.
GMP Contracting was awarded $1,185,270.89, excluding HST, for the project’s construction portion.
The 2022 capital budget for Sedgwick Bridge includes $50,000 to be funded through taxation to support engineering costs. To date, $36,186 has been incurred, with the remainder expected to be incurred as per the service extension approved Dec. 10, 2020.
So additional funding is required to support the fee increase request.
“Less than two per cent variant on a million-dollar project doesn’t seem unreasonable,” said Mayor Brent Devolin.
Bob Carter, councillor for Ward 1, suggested the township hold back paying the contractor until the project is completed.
“We should make sure that all the engineering work was done perfectly before we decide to give them some extra money,” he said.
Trisha McKibbin, the town’s CAO, said four weeks remain before the work’s projected completion and holding off payment is a reasonable request they can put to the contractor.
“We can make the resolution here to approve that additional $20,000, with the understanding that payment will be made at the conclusion of the project,” McKibbin said.
Rink concessions supplied out of community centre
Community Services director Craig Belfry said staff has had positive meetings with the Haliburton County Huskies, the local Ontario Junior Hockey league contingent, and their food and beverage contractor.
Belfry said Oct. 29 will be the start of concessions service that will be run out of the community centre kitchen. Hours of operation will evolve over the course of the season.
“Hopefully that’ll provide some food and beverage services to the facility until we get the new permanent service in place,” he said.
Belfry said they’re starting to see things coming back to all the facilities.
Three rink attendants and four student recreation attendants have been hired.
“It’s great we’re starting to see students starting to come into the building and work for us,” he said.
Township reveals policy for monitoring employees
Council received the township’s policy regarding electronically monitoring municipal workers.
Under the new provincial Working for Workers Act, employers with more than 25 employees were required to put in a place a written electronic monitoring policy by Oct. 11, 2022.
The purpose of the policy, which is now required under the Employment Standards Act, is to provide transparency to employees about how, when, and under what circumstances employees may be electronically monitored.
The policy must also indicate how the monitored information will be used by the employer, the date on which the policy is prepared, and the date on which any changes are made to the policy.
Further, the policy must be provided to employees within 30 days from the date of enactment and within 30 days of any changes being made. It must be provided to new employees within 30 days of their start date.
If they are a temporary worker, it must be provided within 24 hours of the start of their assignment.
“We have followed the policy that the county has created as well, so there’s consistency amongst both Minden Hills and the county,” McKibbon said.
According to the policy: “The Township of Minden Hills makes use of a variety of electronic systems to support communication and information sharing and to ensure the safety and security of Township staff, property and resources.
“In general, these systems are monitored for accounting and security purposes, however, the Township of Minden Hills reserves the right to review and access all information contained within its systems at any time to confirm compliance with policy.”
The township monitors access to properties with the use of electronic fobs and security codes. This monitoring is in place for accounting and security purposes.
The township uses video surveillance at some locations to assist with security and safety concerns. Please refer to Video Surveillance System Policy 124.
All use of township internet and email systems are identifiable by user, device, and device location.
Township vehicles are electronically monitored with global positioning system technology.