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An engineering firm working with the Town of Bronson is asking that money the town owes it be paid early, according to town officials at Monday night's meeting.
Town officials are considering the request, voting unanimously to postpone a decision until more information could be obtained.
Mittauer and Associates Inc., a company that designed the town's upcoming sewer system, wrote in a letter to the town last week it had expected construction to begin this year. A grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture would have covered Mittauer's fees, but that money doesn't come until construction begins.
"They're basically asking for assistance," said Town Clerk Kelli Brettel. " ... With the government shut down, (and because) they're doing a lot of jobs ... for some reason, the last couple of years the projects have taken a long time."
Brettel said Mittauer is asking that the town fork over about $100,000, about half of the total amount the town will owe the firm when all is said and done.
The letter from Mittauer states that the project has taken longer than expected because of the amount of time the town has needed to secure land easements for the project
"We were anticipating the project would bid and awarded this year," the letter states. "However, the easement acquisition process has taken much longer than anticipated adding 10 to 12 months of time ..."
Mittauer is requesting that it be paid from the interim financing obtained from Capitol City Bank, Brettel told council members. She said Mittauer representatives assured her that the USDA grant would eventually cover the costs paid out of interim funds.
"I'm not too sure on that, though," Brettel said, adding she'd like the chance to talk to USDA representatives on the matter.
"They signed up with the full pretext that they wouldn't get paid until we got the money from USDA," said Council Member Berlon Weeks.
The USDA needs to be consulted first, he said. "I think, legally, we don't have to do anything."
Brettel said, despite the contract agreement, the money is still owed.
"I'm going to agree with Councilman Weeks," said Council Member Bruce Greenlee.
He said the town could be hurt if it pulls money from interim funding or from general funds — another option that was discussed.
Brettel said that Mittauer representatives told her that, because of delays, the new time frame for the project has it getting going near the end of March or the beginning of April.