|John Lushis defends Kriger selection|
Council member Bob Werner was an early promoter of bridge bundling, arguing that it is both cheaper and more efficient. But county officials were unsuccessful with PennDot. So John Brown decided to use the state law, called P3, to enable the county to take this project on itself. Basically, the County will convey 33 bridges in need of replacement or repair to the General Purpose Authority (GPA). That agency has already sought bids on the project, and is ready to award the $34 million deal to Kriger Construction, which is located in Dickson City.
|Ken Kraft had numerous questions|
Kraft abstained because one of the union companies he represents does the painting for Kriger.
Shawn Langan, who chairs the GPA, told Council that PennDot was engaged in the selection process.
But did Kriger low-ball the County, i.e. give an artificially low bid to get the work and then have cost overruns? Its bid is $36 million, about half of what Clearwater wanted.
Brown stated that is unlikely because he hired an independent engineering firm, Alfred Benesch and Company, to vet any requests for additional money. John Lushis, GPA's Solicitor, said he went through "painstaking" efforts to insure that cost overruns will be minimized.
Lushis also answered questions about Kriger's qualifications. "Kriger is known as PennDot approved prime contractor," he said, noting that he spoke twice with PennDot and was assured that Kriger is qualified.
In addition to being qualified, Lushis told Council that Kriger had better financing plans. Clearwater proposed financing its deal by having the county issue "certificates of participation" sold to the public, which leads to higher interest rates and a greater financial burden on the county. Kriger is using conventional financing. "[Clearwater] brought in a Lamborghini financing proposal when, essentially, a Buick would have been sufficient," he said. "They overfinanced it to death."
Glenn Geissinger pointed out that the Kriger proposal is $1 million per bridge cheaper than Clearwater.
Brown told Council this is only the beginning. "We're addressing 33 bridges, but we have 99 to repair," he said. He said that once this work is complete, the county should move forward with another bridge bundling project every five years until all bridges are repaired.
Ken Kraft noted that, under the proposed contract with Kriger, the County would have to pay for moving any utility that might have lines on a bridge. Lushis responded that no contractor would agree to bear that cost.
Kraft also raised questions about Kriger's bank, FNCB,claiming that Solicitor Ryan Durkin's father works there. Durkin responded that his father was a consultant there many years ago and was never employed by that bank. Kraft also asked, "Who owns FNCB? Louis DeNaples?"
Brown answered that he had no list of its stockholders.
In 2012, the Federal Reserve ordered DeNaples to resign as Chair of the FNCB because of perjury charges that were later dropped. In 2013, a federal appeals court ordered that he be reinstated, calling the Federal Reserve's decision "bizarre," "untenable" and "scatter-shot" enforcement of the law.
Council President John Cusick, a teacher, was absent from the meeting because he was meeting with parents of his students.