Saline City Council approved the spending of $3.6 million to fix the city’s smelly wastewater treatment plant at Monday’s meeting.
Council voted 6-0 to award $3.275 million to E&L Construction group for the project and $325,000 to Tetra Tech to provide construction services for the project.
Tetra Tech, which managed the bid process, recommended E&L Construction for the project. The company was the low-bidder, more than $300,000 cheaper than the next lowest biddger.
In a memo to council Tetra Tech VP Brian Rubel said TetraTech and E&L Construction recently worked together on a project with the City of Ann Arbor.
Despite Tetra Tech’s recommendations, Rubel strained to endorse the company’s work in front of council. Councillor Janet Dillon asked Rubel about his comfort with E&L Construction.
“My confidence is not in the quality of their work. It’s going to take a little bit of effort to make sure you get what you need to get,” Rubel said. “There’s all these change orders on a project. It’s going to take quite a bit of my time to make sure, if a change order comes up, you get a reasonable price for that.”
Dillon wasn’t reassured by Rubel’s comment.
She asked if there would be delays. Rubel said E&L did not express any concerns about the schedule. The city hopes to have the project done by spring of 2019.
Answering a question from Councillor Christen Mitchell, Rubel said E&L has done many wastewater treatment plant projects using the same proponents. And he found a good reference for the company after its work on an odor scrubber for a community near Flint. Rubel said it was vitally important that the city identify the right manufacturer for the odor control, and he said he’s confident in the company the city chose.
Mayor Brian Marl said he Tetra Tech’s management of the project was important. It mirrors and approach the city used when it hired a company to manage the recent construction at the Rec Center.
“We’re happy to have robust oversite, assuring accountability exists. It can resolve potential longstanding issues,” Marl said.
What isn’t clear is whether the city will begin release funds to start the project before it closes on the low-interest loan with the state of Michigan. The city wants to expedite the project for the sake of residents living near the plant, but it doesn’t want to be caught holding the bag if something happens with the loan, even though it appears to be a formality.