Director of the Light Department Gary Babin gave the Mansfield Light Commissioners an update on work at the East Mansfield power substation on Wednesday.
He said that work is progressing well, aside from delays regarding the delivery of transformers from Idaho.
The transformers are necessary to start work on electrical systems in the substation. The transformers were delayed in arrival because of issues regarding transport. He said that the delivery truck was delayed because the original route that the company planned for and received a travel permit for went under construction. A new permit has been obtained and the transformers, he said, are due to arrive in a week.
Babin added that the delay may not affect the cost of construction, since the contractor has not been paid yet for the job, and price may be negotiated at a later date due.
Commissioner chair George Dentino said he had concerns with the amount of manpower the town has committed to the project per the Light Department’s authority.
“We’re spending for one guy for a full day, we’re paying overtime on the same day,” Dentino said. “We’ve got another person we’re paying to be the clerk of the works that gets there once in a while… we pay an engineer up there 50 percent of his time… and we’ve you going up there, how much do you think we spend at the end of the week?”
Babin said that a full-time engineer is currently dedicated to the project, along with a part-time work clerk. He said he and department engineer Chris Cox also visit the site an hour a day.
“This is the most significant project that this department has undertaken in [many years],” Babin said. “The way we allocate resources there is according to need. Now I help determine what that need is, I discuss it with Bill [town manager William Ross], Bill is aware how it is set up there. I think that is part of what you hired me to do, is to manage the project. That’s part of managing the project; that’s how I allocated the resources. I would have to say that we’ve done a pretty darn good job to date.”
Dentino said that this was not appropriate use of town employee hours, and that he thinks the time could be better spent.
Town manager William Ross said that he thinks there should be people on site looking after the town’s interests, in case any shortcuts are made in the construction process that could cost the town more money in the future.
“Before the work can be started, there has to be a lot of plan review, even before the project is bid,” Ross said. “At least in my experience, you want to have a knowledgeable person on site representing the owner, especially on a contract as complex as this one, to assure that the contractor follows the specifications.
“In my experience, contractors vary from ones that get put on a job and you never see them again until the job is done and ones that you have to bird dog constantly, in order to ensure that they don’t cut corners. I do not know which this contractor is or which degree in between. Generally speaking you want to watch the watch the work to ensure that the specifications are met throughout the project. Especially for anything that’s buried.”