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Wolfeboro's legal fees in engineering suit near $200,000

WOLFEBORO - The town's lawsuit against its former engineering firm, Wright-Pierce Engineers, has thus far cost the town nearly $186,000 in legal expenses.

Town Manager David Owen presented an update on legal fees in this case during last week's board of selectmen's meeting. The town filed a lawsuit against the Topsham, Maine-based Wright Pierce Engineering firm in April 2012 after problems arose with the effluent disposal system the firm designed and installed for the town.

That $8 million system involved the design and construction of Rapid Infiltration Basins (RIB) for septic effluent disposal. The basins were expected to provide a 600,000-gallon per day capacity for effluent, but after they were installed problems were detected including major leaks down slope. The town hired another engineering firm, S.W. Cole Engineers, who found in a follow up study that the site had geological features that prevented that high level of effluent disposal.

The total paid in 2011 and 2012 for legal expenses in this case has come to $185,704.70.

"We paid $8 million for the Rapid Inflow Basins that were supposed to provide for 600,000 gallons per day for a lifetime of 20 years," said Owen.

He said the town is seeking to be made whole for damages.

Thus far, the case is in discovery stages with no court date set.

To date, the town's legal expense category in the executive budget is 94.2 percent expended to date.

Health insurance

The board of selectmen also heard from town Finance Director Peter Chamberlin, who reported that switching health insurance carriers would save the town a bundle.

The town will switch from the health and dental plan offered through the Local Government Center to a plan offered by School Care, the insurance provider for the Governor Wentworth Regional School District.

The total savings for this and next year is $277,000. Owen said the new plan is a CIGNA health insurance product, and the Local Government Center plan is a Blue Cross Blue Shield product.

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