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September 13, 2012

New Castle board to delay paying Lockley project bills

NEW CASTLE — The New Castle school board has decided to delay payment to various contractors for the Lockley school project.

The board voted 6-3 Wednesday night to table paying certain bills until after the new bids are opened.

Voting to pay were Mark Kirkwood, Allan Joseph and Karen Humphrey.

The bills — about $38,000 — were for Batemen and Seidel, $4,650, and Pashek Associates, $7,028.50, for site acquisition; Printscape Imaging and Graphics, $107, for supplies; Frank B. Taylor Engineering, $1,683.50, for technical services; and Thomas & Williamson, $26,654, the project managers.

Humphrey’s husband, Bill, works for Taylor Engineering. She said she voted to pay the bills because the work already has been done.

Joseph, who is the board president, agreed.

“They’ve done the work. I feel they should be paid. This has been delayed since July.”

David DiGiammarino made the motion to delay payment, suggesting the board wait until the bids for the project come in.

The early learning center consolidation project has been delayed because the original bids, opened in late June, came in higher than what had been budgeted for the $19 million project.

Superintendent George Gabriel said the architects from Eckles Architecture had assured him initially the project would not exceed that budgeted amount.

The project is now to be rebid and, according to business manager Joe Ambrosini, the new specifications were to have been sent out by the architects and construction manager this week, but they have not yet gone out.

Board members asked Ambrosini for his opinion on whether the bills should be paid.

“They have done the work and eventually they will be paid, but some may have a trickle-down effect on some of the vendors” who submit bids, he said.

Gabriel asked if there “are legal issues here” in not paying and solicitor Chuck Sapienza responded the board should call an executive session for “contract purposes” to discuss it.

Under the Pennsylvania Sunshine Law, executive sessions are allowed for personnel, pending litigation and real estate transactions.

The board went into a private session for personnel reasons as well. Sapienza explained after the session that the board briefly had discussed the bills with regard to legalities and contracts, but most of the discussions centered on personnel.

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