Saline City Council awarded more than $1.4 million in contracts for the wastewater treatment construction project.
At Monday’s meeting, city council voted to award a $1,276,000 contract for the 2013 wastewater treatment plant rehabilitation project to Franklin Howerda Company. City council also approved $135,000 to Tetra Tech for its engineering proposal.
“This project has been a long time coming. This motion will help bring our wastewater treatment plant into the 21st century and improve its long term viability and sustainability,” Mayor Brian Marl said.
The main component of the project is the rehabilitation of the plant’s main digester.
The project will replace the anaerobic digester mixing system, the digester gas handling system,the hot water heating boiler and the sludge transfer pumps and a number of four-inch and six-inch valves. The project is expected to take 13 months
The lowest bid was $1,276,000, submitted by the Franklin Holwerda Company of Wyoming, Mich. The city had estimated a cost of $1,330,000. A 10 percent contingency included in the proposal could bring the total expense to $1,538,000, including engineering costs.
Thomas Albaugh, Vice President of Tetra Tech, told city council he’s confident it will be a safe project, and that service will not be disrupted. Albaugh said the project was similar to the one that was conducted in Dexter, where a contractor was killed when a tank blew up during work.
“The driving thing there was digestive gas. It can be explosive. Those accidents don’t need to happen. So you recognize that in the way you put your bids together,” Albaugh said.
Councillor David Rhoads asked the contract be amended to increase $1.5 million limit on liability to the ceiling allowable on the insurance plan. Rhoads also asked that special attention be given to contract language about warranties.
The wastewater replacement fund has about $1,970,000 available to cover the project. Council member Lee Bourgoin urged his colleagues to bond for the project rather than draining the account. Bourgoin noted that city was approving the expenditure of $1.5 million and that there is a future project that could cost $400,000. He also said that city code requires the city to keep close to $2 million in the wastewater replacement fund.
“The federal reserve has brought rates way down and now is the ideal time to bond,” Bourgoin said. “We might have other needs too. We should bond for this.”
City Manager Todd Campbell disagreed with the notion that the city code requires the fund to stay at $2 million.
“We can spend it down and bring it back up. The reserve fund is meant for this type of project,” Campbell said.
Mayor Marl disagreed with the idea of borrowing for the project.
“I am not in favor of adding long term debt by bonding,” Marl said.
Bourgoin said Marl’s comments were unwise.
“What you just said is very unwise. Not bonding when rates are at their lowest is not wise,” Bourgoin said.
Marl said they would have to agree to disagree.
“I think it’s unwise to increase long term debt when we have cash to pay for it,” Marl said.
The cost to the city may be reduced by up to $102,000 in grants, according to City Superintendent Gary Roubal.
In March of 2012, city council approved a plan to study the plant and determine what needed to be repaired.