Archive for Wednesday, June 13, 2001

Firm severs ties with Basehor

June 13, 2001

A rift between Basehor City Council members and a Lawrence firm has led the company to resign its position as the city's engineer.

"I don't want to make it a mud-throwing contest," said Mayor Bill Hooker. "It will work out best for both of us, I'm sure."

Two weeks ago, Cecil Kingsley of BG Consultants, Lawrence, informed council members that, effective June 15, his firm no longer would serve as the city engineer.

Kingsley or his firm serve as city engineer in several other communities, including Tonganoxie.

The move came after the Basehor City Council decided to seek bids for design work on a major sewer project that would serve an area south of U.S. Highway 24-40.

BG had an opportunity to bid, along with other firms, according to Mike Hooper, codes administrator for the city. But apparently, Kingsley thought his firm in its role as city engineer should design the sewer project, without submitting a bid.

"He said that if we didn't feel confidence in them to do all the design work, then we probably didn't feel confident enough for them to be city engineer, and he chose to resign," Hooper said. "Basically, it was an all or nothing thing."

Kingsley said the decision to resign after four years as city engineer in Basehor was a business decision.

"As city engineer, we step down from a lot of work in the cities that we are city engineer," he said. "It was not longer in our business' best interest to do that in Basehor."

Kingsley said he has no intention of severing his firm's ties to Tonganoxie, where Kingsley has been city engineer since the late 1980s.

"I believe we have a legacy of very good projects and a great relationship in Tonganoxie," he said. "I intend to be city engineer in Tonganoxie as long as they'll have me. We would go to great lengths to continue as city engineer in Tonganoxie."

Hooper said some council members questioned whether BG Consultants should both design and inspect the project.

"I don't know if you could call it a conflict of interest," Hooper said. "There isn't somebody checking the engineer to see that everything's right. There's a little bit of question there not to say that BG is not a competent engineer, but things happen."

Kingsley said his firm should handle city projects.

"Where we are city engineer, it only makes sense to do the city projects," he said. "That relationship's just not working in the city of Basehor, so we decided to step down. We haven't got anything negative to say about the city of Basehor. It's just a business decision."

BG Consultants, working under a separate contract with the city that was not put out for bid, designed the city's new $7 million sewage treatment plant. The plant should be operating by the end of the month, city officials said.

According to the mayor, problems developed between the city and the firm during work on the plant.

Hooper said the size of the plant grew, its location changed and the timetable was accelerated all of which led to the cost of the project increasing from about $3 million to $7 million. Those alterations, however, were not necessarily the firm's fault, Hooper said.

"The scope of the plant has changed tremendously," Hooper said. "The cost was a thorn in the council's side. I don't know if the council understands why there was a change in the cost of it. The product we're getting is an excellent product."

Regardless of the reasons for the cost increases, the mayor said one thing is clear: "BG got the blame for it. It kind of festered."

The firm will complete its contract on the sewage treatment plant, including a one-year warranty, the mayor said.

He said that if BG hadn't resigned, council members most likely would not have renewed the firm's contract with the city, which expires June 24.

"I just know individually from council people that when it came up for renewal, that it probably wasn't going to happen," Hooker said. "When they resigned, that relieved everybody from making the decision."

For now, the city will work with another engineering firm on an interim basis. Hooker said he anticipates the city will hire a full-time city engineer within a few months.

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