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LCCC lawyer: Contract renegotiation going well

The construction manager contract fees are higher than the industry standard.

By Terrie Morgan-Besecker, Staff Writer, Times Leader 11/11/2008

NANTICOKE — The solicitor for Luzerne County Community College said negotiations regarding a controversial construction manager contract awarded to Precept Associates are going well and he believes a resolution to the matter may be near.

Attorney Joseph Kluger made the announcement at a brief meeting that followed a more than 1 hour, 45-minute executive session held by the college's board of trustees Monday night.

Kluger has been attempting to renegotiate the contract since the board voted on Oct. 22 to take legal action if Precept's owner, Robert Higdon, refused its request to reopen the deal.

That directive was based on Kluger's opinion that the contract could be voided because the terms went beyond the scope of the resolution the board passed in June 2007 that named Precept as the firm to oversee construction of the college's Public Safety Training Institute and renovation of the Kanjorski Center into a Health Science building.

The $1.6 million, no-bid contract came under question after it was revealed Precept's fee of 8 percent of the construction cost was much higher than the industry standard. The contract also contains language that would allow Precept to increase its profit by adding expenses into the project cost that are not standard in such contracts.

The board of trustees has acknowledged no one from the college read the document before President Tom Leary signed it.

Speaking after the meeting, Kluger would not identify what areas of the contract he is attempting to renegotiate, saying only that he is “looking at the entire document.”

“We believe we may be able to resolve the legal issues. We hope to have a report to the board soon,” he said.

©Times Leader 2008