County shores up procedure with bridge contractor

Staff reporter

After information was provided to Marion County Commission Feb. 19, it was determined that the county's contractor for bridge projects should be required to carry workers compensation insurance for himself and his employees the same as other county contractors.

Andy Krause of Krause Welding, Hillsboro, has been the contractor for bridge projects for a number of years. However, county clerk Carol Maggard told the commission that he had not been required to carry his own workers compensation insurance.

The county could provide it for Krause but it would be at a higher rate than if the contractor obtained it.

Small companies with a few employees are not required by the state to have workers comp insurance but the county does require it of other contractors.

If Krause was injured while performing work for the county he would be entitled to full workers comp benefits which would be charged to the county's policy, Maggard said.

If the policy was obtained through the county's carrier, KWORCC (Kansas Workers Risk Cooperative for Counties) and charged to the county, it would cost the county more than $29 per $100 of contract coverage. If Krause was to obtain his own, the premium probably would be $800 to $900 per year.

In 2007, Krause was paid a total of $83,650 by the county.

Later in the meeting, interim county public works director John Summerville said that Krause had been in contact with him regarding possible bridge projects for 2008.

Krause said he had to do at least one large and two small bridges per year to make money, Summerville said. The county is planning some bridge projects this year but two of them involve other counties and won't be finalized until the contracting "season" is over.

"We don't have any bridges for him to do right now," Summerville said.

The reason Krause wants to know about future projects is because his monthly premium costs for construction liability insurance is significant. If there aren't any bridges for him to do in a given month, then Krause will not pay the insurance for that month.

According to a list of bridges in the county that need attention, Summerville said there were 11 bridges that could be replaced with a boxed culvert, which would be done by county crews, instead of a new bridge structure with Krause bidding.

A bridge on Indigo Road needs to be replaced in the next few years but was not critical. There also are three bridges on 310th Road and Chisholm Trail that need to be replaced but it was questionable whether it was prudent for the county to replace them since they weren't on a main thoroughfare.

Summerville suggested those bridges be abandoned and land bought to locate one new bridge instead of replacing the three. Commissioner Dan Holub agreed with Summerville and agreed to explore options with him. The issue will be discussed at a future meeting.

The county could inherit a new bridge from Kansas Department of Transportation. Joe Palic of KDOT told the commission that a new bridge, three-fourths of a mile south of Florence was constructed in 2000, during the reconstruction project of U.S.-77. The bridge is located on a dead-end road but was necessary during the construction of the highway.

Palic said the county had been approached several years ago regarding the state giving the bridge to the county to maintain but the appropriate paperwork was not completed.

The 120-foot-long, reinforced concrete bridge will not require much maintenance at the current time but it would become the county's responsibility to have it inspected every two years and maintain it.

Summerville said that ideally he would like to see the state maintain ownership of it because of the costs for the inspection. However, he also understands the agreement made by the previous department head.

The commission tabled a decision until it had more time to review the situation.