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County waives policy, for now

Posted: Tuesday, Mar 14th, 2017

SUBLETTE COUNTY – The Sublette County Board of Commissioners decided last Tuesday to revisit a new policy it enacted back in January after a company owner, who was awarded a bid for road work in December, voiced his concerns about the potential burden it could pose.

“The addendum we’re talking about came several weeks or a month after that (bid was awarded),” said Corey Bennett, of R.S. Bennett Construction, which was low bidder at $2 million to redo Industrial Site Road – a bid awarded Dec. 20, 2016.

In January 2017, the commissioners decided that in the event of an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) violation, outside contractors working in county gravel pits would be on the hook for the cost of the violation – even if it was issued to the county because of the contractor – as well as three times the cost of the violation, which would be given to the county as an additional penalty.

“The new requirement in the pit is to protect Sublette County,” said Mark Eatinger, of Rio Verde Engineering – the county’s road engineering firm – at the Jan. 17 meeting.

“Mark come up with that three-times amount,” said Road and Bridge Superintendent Butch Penton at last Tuesday’s meeting. “It was just a deterrent to have pit operators, or whoever’s in the pit, do it right.”

“The intent of this was in no way for the county to make money,” said commissioner Joel Bousman. “The intent was to avoid violations.”

Bennett cited “eight penalties in the last 24 months” in Wyoming from OSHA, with amounts ranging from $41,000 to $70,000.

“So now the contractor is not only paying $70,000 to OSHA but we’re paying $280,000 by the time the county gets three times (the fine amount),” he said. “I would propose we look at that a little different.”

Bennett had “no problems paying the (potential) OSHA fine. We’d be fully responsible for that and we recognize that. But for the county to receive three times that amount – we’re talking about a lot of money potentially.”

According to Bennett, his company would have bid the Industrial Site Road job differently had they known about the addendum that was coming a month later.

“You would consider it as a part of your pricing, undoubtedly,” he said.

For the complete article see the 03-14-2017 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 03-14-2017 paper.

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