A change order from JEO Engineering was on the agenda for the third time for discussion at the North Sioux City City Council meeting Feb. 1. The change order for $11,241.64 was presented to the council Dec. 7, 2020 for work conducted on Jeff Rabbitt’s property after the 2019 flooding. The city paid JEO Engineering for their services and presented the information to the State of South Dakota. The state said the city would be eligible for reimbursement of $9,922.70 (which the city has not yet received).

However, the state continued its review of the submitted $11,830 in administrative costs and found language in the contract between the city and JEO that stated allowable administrative expenditures were not to exceed $1,500. Due to this, the state has now said that the of the $11,830 in administrative costs $10,330 is not reimbursable, per the contract with JEO.

“The work that we did, we were directed to by staff,” Ethan Joy of JEO said. “Ted [Cherry, former city administrator] asked us to help, we helped. That’s what we do. It occurred over about an eight to nine month period. It was a little bit here, a little bit there and it added up.”

Joy explained that JEO helped by filling out paperwork, updating information on the FEMA portal and attending meetings and webinars.

“In hindsight, would it have been good to have a contract for it?” Joy asked. “Yes, it would’ve been. But we were just doing what was asked under our general engineering contract. We believe we provided value in doing the work and overall there was over $150,000 and change from FEMA for flood reimbursement work. It’s not unusual in dealing with FEMA that they try to find every little way to take money off; it’s just what they do.

“I apologize for that, but at no time when we do this do we claim that there will be FEMA reimbursement,” Joy continued. “We’re not in control of that; we don’t make that claim. In our position, we provided value to you, but if you as a council decide, ‘Hey, we feel differently.’ We’ll reimburse the city. We’re here to work with you; we’re here to be your partner. It’s your decision as a council that there was not as much value or effort as we suggest and we’ll write you a check this week or next week and take care of it.”

The council didn’t disagree that the work JEO did was valuable to the city. City Administrator Eric Christensen said there could be fault on both ends.

See full story in this week’s Dakota Dunes / North Sioux City Times.