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Commissioners debate engineering fees charged to the county

Grady County Commissioners approved payment of over $20,000 in engineering fees to its consulting engineer, but not before discussing the possibility of putting the county’s engineering work out for bid and the current agreement with its engineer.
Invoices for engineering work done by consulting engineer Stacy Watkins of Watkins and Associates on the Old 179 and Open Pond Road projects totaled $23,082.07.
The county has previously paid Watkins $41,385 in January for work on the Old 179 North full depth reclamation projection.
Another $46,560.43 was previously paid to Watkins for engineering of the culvert extensions for the Old 179 project. Of that total $39,621.38 was paid to Watkins in August 2016; $5,751.55 in November 2016 and $1,187.50 in December 2017.
The county last week paid Watkins $14,490.00 for preliminary engineering for the Open Pond Road project.
“Is this all for work that has already been done?” Commissioner LaFaye Copeland asked.
Grady County Clerk Carrie Croy said that it was engineering work that had to be done in order for the county to solicit bids on the road projects.
Commissioner Keith Moye asked how much of Open Pond Road was engineered for $15,000 and the clerk said it was for the whole stretch of road.
“Do we ever bid out engineering services to make sure we are getting good pricing? We sure have paid a lot of money on engineering,” Commissioner Moye said.
Croy said that engineering services had been put out for bid in years past, but said that Watkins had been doing the work since the late Rusty Moye had served as county administrator.
Commissioner June Knight suggested the board request bids. “We are all trying to save money here,” she said.
Chairman Ray Prince said that projects typically come in for less than what Watkins projects the cost to be and he also said that Watkins does a lot of work for the county that he does not charge for.
Moye questioned how Watkins’ fees were calculated and Croy said the county has a negotiated contract with the consulting engineer.
Commissioner Copeland said that she remembered it was a percentage of the project.
Croy said she would research the county’s agreement with Watkins and share it with the board. Vice Chairman T.D. David requested that at the same time Croy verify the bonding of Watkins’ work.

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