PAXINOS - Shamokin-Coal Township Joint Sewer Authority board member Michael Carpenter said he believes the board is being kept in the dark about certain aspects of the new wastewater treatment plant construction.

Carpenter spoke out twice at Wednesday's meeting, expressing concern about potential cost changes that total about $375,000.

A change order from general contractor Michael F. Ronca Inc., of Bethlehem for $4,094, for custom color doors and frames was unanimously approved, but another, from the electrical contractor, MBR Construction Services, of Reading, elicted an objection from Carpenter.

"This is a change order for $76,221.69," he said. "I have a tough time with this when it was my understanding that all change orders have to be approved by the engineer and our legal counsel, and we have to see those recommendations."

When asked for clarification, engineer Scott Keefer couldn't provide it readily, so the change order was tabled pending additional information.

Keefer came under fire later in the meeting when, during his report to the board, he presented a draft agreement for an additional $320,000 in funding for engineering services.

"Because of a dispute we are having with the electrical contractor, the USDA asked our firm to handle the additional engineering work, and that extra work has eaten through the basic engineering budget of $725,000," Keefer said.

"If there is documentation that shows USDA asked you to do this work, as far as I know, it hasn't been presented to the board," Carpenter said.

Authority manager Paul Petrovich reported that he, Keefer and legal counsel met with the contractors last week and both firms were asked what work the engineers are expected to do. That list is expected to be handed in Friday and the dispute should be settled in two weeks.