INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – The battle between the county and its contractor tasked with rebuilding beaches on the barrier island could come to an end by March 16.
The Board of County Commissioners unanimously supported individual meetings with county staff to review the current and proposed price tag for the beach renourishment project and could vote on a resolution at the March 16 board meeting.
At issue is nearly $500,000 that Ranger Construction expects to be paid for increased sand processing that neither it nor the county had planned on at the time the company bid on and was awarded the contract.
Commissioners approved the contract with Ranger Construction on Feb. 2 and partially approved the company’s first change order immediately following the contract. At the time, commissioners approved allocating an extra $439,000 to Ranger but denied the remaining $491,000, which Ranger is still seeking.
Bob Schafer, the company’s vice president, said the business and county staff had met numerous times to discuss the project.
“At no time did we say we were going to do that for free,” Schafer said of the additional processing, later adding, “I expect to get paid.”
Ranger Construction has not threatened to walk off the currently $7.7 million job or otherwise modify the project, according to County Engineer Chris Mora, who has been giving regular updates to the commissioners on the project.
“We feel we are at the dispute level,” Mora told commissioners – essentially a stalemate between staff and the contractor.
County Attorney Alan Polackwich, who began work with the county last month, told commissioners that they need to get the issue resolved soon, before the project progresses much further.
“You people never had a meeting of the minds” of what the project was going to cost before the contract was approved, Polackwich said. He reminded commissioners that the county received notice from Ranger in December that they were facing a nearly $1 million cost increase.
County staff had agreed that Ranger would incur more costs due to increased sand processing and other additional requirements set forth by various environmental agencies. However, the county also believed the contractor would save money, too, due to pulling nearly 90 percent of the project’s sand out of the nearest sand pit.
County staff estimates Ranger would save approximately $264,000 in fuel alone for the hauling of the sand. Ranger estimates the savings at closer to $111,000.
Either way, county officials, including commissioners, have said that fuel savings should be passed along to the county to offset the cost overruns on processing.
“I just want a resolution one way or the other,” said County Commissioner Bob Solari. “What we’re getting to is the price keeps on going up and up and up.”
Commissioners will also be expected to approve a second change order from Ranger Construction, possibly at the March 16 meeting, to address the need for another 100,000 or so cubic yards of sand to make up for further beach erosion during the winter storms.
The cost associated with the additional sand has not yet been calculated but is expected to be presented to commissioners as they meet individually with staff prior to that board meeting.