The Sauk County Board voted 29-1 Tuesday to approve a contract addendum allowing a Spring Green engineering firm to manage construction of a portion of the Great Sauk Trail.
The agreement provides Jewell Associates Engineers with $19,000 to oversee development of the trail’s first phase through the villages of Sauk City and Prairie du Sac, which already is under construction. Noah Anliker, surveyor and engineer technician for the firm, will take over management of the project.
The board approved a $128,230 contract with Jewell in January for engineering services and authorized the county parks director to approve up to $25,646 of additional work. Sauk County Board Chairman Marty Krueger said the retirement of the county’s former highway commissioner in June necessitated the contract adjustment.
“If Steve Muchow was still highway commissioner, the duties being performed by (Jewell) would have basically been his responsibility,” he said. “However, he retired.”
The 26-year county employee submitted his retirement letter April 27, one day after a Madison attorney secured by the county traveled to Baraboo to investigate allegations raised by his employees. Workers accused Muchow of personal use of county property, altering time cards, undisclosed cost overages on a building project and employee mistreatment.
Muchow has denied any wrongdoing, and said he was not aware of the investigation when he decided to retire. Despite the allegations, two county officials, Krueger and Sauk County Administrator Alene Kleczek Bolin, recommended in June that Muchow be hired after his retirement as a consultant for Jewell Associates on the Great Sauk Trail. They dropped the request a short time later.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice is investigating the allegations against Muchow.
On Tuesday, Krueger met with the county’s Highway and Parks Committee, which oversees the county’s involvement with the Great Sauk Trail, 45 minutes prior to the full board meeting. Krueger, who chairs the Great Sauk Trail Commission, provided the panel with background on the agreement with Jewell and asked members to approve the addendum.
Following Muchow’s retirement, Krueger said the county’s interim highway commissioner, Darin Carignan, and parks director, Matt Stieve, were asked to oversee the Great Sauk Trail project. Krueger said they felt they did not have “the level of background expertise and knowledge that some of the finer points of the construction of this trail would require.” Krueger said Jewell and Associates leaders were then asked if they would provide management services for the project.
The $19,000 addendum, combined with several other unforeseen expenses on the section of the trail, would have put the $128,230 project over its $25,646 limit for additional costs. Sauk County Attorney Todd Liebmen said board approval of the addendum allowed the county to move forward with the project without going over the cap.
“We felt the best way to get this approved would be to break this out as a separate contract addendum and move forward with approval by the board of this amount, and then the other amount will be within the contingency, and that will be approved by the committee,” he said.
Supervisor David Riek of Spring Green said he was concerned the Highway and Parks Committee was not made aware of the additional costs and resulting addendum sooner.
“My concern is that you’ve known about these additional amounts and never once was this presented at a committee meeting,” he said. “Do committees have no significance at all? Are we here just to rubber stamp?”
Krueger said the process was a “fluid” situation and he was not made aware of the additional expenses until last month.