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How to finance street repairs

We’re actually a week late responding to a plea from some Buckeye Lake Village Council members on how to pay for some soon-to-be desperately needed street repairs. But given what came out of Monday night’s council meeting – Public Works Director Vaughn Klingler plans to look for grants and other government assistance – we’ve still got a better idea.

Our suggestion is based on Ohio Revised Code 2305.06 and 2305.09. Both address the statute of limitations in Ohio. As we wrote in a series of editorials in 2010 and 2011, both Chem-Cote and ME Companies repeatedly violated the terms of their contracts with the village for resurfacing streets torn up by the installation of the village’s public water distribution system. ME was supposed to design, specify and oversee the resurfacing project. Chem-Cote was to resurface our streets according to the specifications outlined in the bid and their subsequent contract with the village.

Both failed miserably as we pointed out early in the project. Unfortunately, our predictions are coming true throughout the village as our two and a half year old streets crumble. ME failed to assess the condition of individual streets. Instead, the engineering firm specified that all streets be planed first to remove some of the existing asphalt. On some streets that meant removing about half of the base for the new pavement with very predictable results. Asphalt must be applied over a solid base or it will quickly break up. Toward the end of the project, several streets including East Street were not planed and their condition is much better compared to the ones that were scalped. ME was also paid to oversee Chem-Cote’s work. Their inspector routinely ignored Chem-Cote’s failure to use a tack or bond coat, clean the surface properly before applying new asphalt, and to install the two inches of compacted asphalt specified in the contract.

ORC 2305.06 allows Buckeye Lake Village to pursue a contract violation claim against both ME Companies and Chem-Cote “within eight years after the cause of action accrued.” Chem-Cote’s failure to install the specified two inches of compacted asphalt combined with their assertion that they meet all the contract specifications appears to constitute fraud. ORC 2305.09 gives Buckeye Lake Village five years to bring an action “for relief on the ground of fraud.”

Rather than to ask for more grants after so thoroughly mismanaging the last one, it’s time to hold both contractors accountable for their failure to meet the very basic terms of their contracts. Buckeye Lake Village was entrusted with funds provided by taxpayers all over the state. The least we can do is make sure that their taxes were spent properly.

The first step is to hire a forensic engineer to check the thickness of the asphalt installed in August/September 2010 and to evaluate compliance with the contract specifications. We have photographs that will help with that process. Forensic engineers aren’t cheap, probably $150+ per hour. We’ll also put some money where our mouth is. The Beacon will pay for the first two hours, up to $400.

It may not take many hours of a forensic investigation before we have a couple of companies suddenly willing to work out some ‘misunderstandings.’ And if they don’t volunteer, we still have time to seek civil and possible criminal remedies in court.

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