Local News

Council to discuss possible Whitman lawsuit

The Ketchikan City Council has an executive session scheduled at the end of Thursday’s meeting, to discuss a potential lawsuit against the consulting firm that provided a cost estimate for the Whitman Lake hydroelectric project.

Through voter-approved bonds and a state grant, the city had funds to cover the estimate, with some contingencies, but the estimate from Hatch Associates turned out to be about $10 million under the lowest bid.

The low bidder, Dawson Construction, worked with the city and Hatch representatives to reduce the scope of the project. But, after all the cuts, it still was $2.5 million over budget. The Council considered scrapping the project, which the city has been working on for many years, but the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly stepped in and offered a $2.5 million grant. The Council officially accepted the grant on Dec. 21, and the project is moving forward.

On Dec. 23, the city received an invoice from Hatch for the value-engineering work, plus cost estimates for continuing project management. Three days later, City Manager Karl Amylon wrote a memo requesting the executive session to discuss a possible lawsuit against Hatch.

Amylon says the invoice from Hatch, as well as the company’s job performance, will be part of the closed-door discussion.

Also Thursday, the Council will consider increasing wastewater fees by 10 percent, and water rates by 5 percent. Both increases were programmed into the 2013 budget, which the Council approved in December. However, rate increases must be adopted through separate ordinances.

The Council meeting starts at 7 p.m. Thursday in City Council chambers. Public comment will be heard at the start of the meeting.

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