Town agrees to series of North Project funding steps

The Town of Lovell took a major step toward resolving the longstanding dispute with Excel Construction regarding the North Phase of the town water and sewer infrastructure project with a series of votes during a special meeting Friday at Town Hall.

According to Lovell Clerk/Treasurer Valerie Beal, the action taken Friday “will allow us to be able to submit to the funding agencies what we hope will be a final drawdown of the grant funds.”

No resolution to or settlement of the pending lawsuits between the town and Excel have been announced by the town or Attorney Tracy Copenhaver, but the council did go into a closed session to discuss the litigation at the beginning of Friday’s meeting.

After reconvening in an open session the council discussed a final pay estimate from Excel that was signed by both the contractor and DOWL HKM engineering, Beal said. Councilman Brian Dickson made the motion to authorize Mayor Bruce Morrison to sign the final payment request in the amount of $793,499 for Excel Construction. The motion passed unanimously.

Next, in order to fund the additional engineering work by DOWL HKM due to the litigation, the council voted to approve an amendment to the contract between the town and the engineering firm for the North Project, which allows the contract to increase by $92,664.17.

DOWL HKM then submitted two invoices for additional services on the North Project in the amount of $88,531.57 and $91,727.38 continent upon the town receiving approval and funds from the USDA Rural Utilities Service.

Finally, the town voted to authorize Mayor Morrison to sign an authorization for RUS to cancel any remaining grant funds from the North Phase after funds are received for the final funding request.

RUS has been holding onto the funds for years pending resolution of the litigation, Beal said, and has been anxious to wrap up its books. She said the town had hoped to use remaining grant money for later phases of the water and sewer project, but the funding agency said the remaining funds must return to RUS.

By David Peck