County assesses liquidated damages

Published 10:29 am Thursday, March 24, 2016

WINTON – The final tally is in and the dollar amount will wind-up costing the general contractor of the new Hertford County Courthouse and Government Center nearly a half-million.

Following a closed session at their regularly scheduled meeting here on Monday night, the Hertford County Board of Commissioners agreed unanimously to a recommendation from County Manager Loria Williams to assess liquidated damages totaling $460,000 against A.R. Chesson Construction Company.

Williams told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald on Tuesday that the financial damages were linked to the contract between the county and Chesson on the $12.225 million project that called for an original substantial completion date of Oct. 5, 2014. That date was moved on several occasions after Chesson missed the initial deadline. It wasn’t until June 5, 2015 that Chesson completed the contractual completion date, roughly 239 days late.

The contract between the two parties called for liquidated damages of $2,500 per day for each day the substantial completion date went beyond Oct. 5, 2014. That turned out to be $579,500 which the county could withhold from paying Chesson for their work.

However, the two parties met to discuss the total amount, which resulted in a $137,000 reduction in the total liquidated damages. Williams said the majority of that reduction was based upon 25 days the contractor lost due to wet weather (a savings to Chesson in the amount of $62,500); a 12-day reduction as suggested by the architectural firm employed by the county to oversee the project (-$30,000); seven days for ITL Testing (-$17,500); and a delay in awarding the bid for the millwork subcontractor (-$14,500).

The delays by the contractor wound-up costing the county in several areas, as noted by Williams. They included an extra $162,422 in architectural fees; $21,345 in furniture storage fees and double-handling of those items (they were pre-ordered and ready to place in the new courthouse/admin office building before Oct. 5, 2014); $19,439.60 for mold testing and remediation; and $10,000 in additional legal costs.

“The liquidated damages will help us recover some of those costs, but there are other costs we incurred in this project due to the contractor’s delay,” Williams said. “That would include having to pay debt service on a building that we were not able to occupy eight months earlier as called for in the contract. We could have chosen to litigate that, but we chose not to. We feel the settlement we reached with A.R. Chesson is fair.”

She added that in fairness the county will still pay Chesson $1,654.79 for the cost of additional floor drain work and another $59,250 for plumbing and landscaping that still needs to be completed.

The construction contract for the duel projects was awarded to Chesson on Dec. 4, 2012. It involves the Judicial Center (courthouse), a three story facility encompassing 45,456 gross square feet. The Center will house all departments in the existing courthouse plus the District Attorney’s Office and Child Enforcement Office, both currently in Ahoskie.

Additionally, the project includes a single story Government Center (10,385 gross square feet) that will be built adjacent, but not connected, to the courthouse. That facility will house the county manager’s office, tax collection office, tax assessment office, land records, finance office and economic development (planning and zoning) office. In turn, that space in the current administration building in Winton will be used by Hertford County DSS.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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