Council awards Shank Constructors, Inc. $17 million contract for wastewater facility improvements
By Rick Morain
The Jefferson city council on Nov. 22 awarded Shank Constructors, Inc. of Brooklyn Park, Minn., the contract to improve the city’s wastewater treatment facility, located on West Russell Street in the southwest part of Jefferson.
The base bid for the project was $17,426,100, nearly $4,000,000 more than the Bolton and Menk Inc. engineer’s estimate of $13,611,000. The engineer’s estimate was computed about two months before the awarding of the bid.
Shank Constructors was the only bidder.
In addition, the council approved, on recommendation of Bolton and Menk, an alternate of $78,600 for an alternate manufacturer and model of an ultraviolet disinfection system for the facility, bringing the total contract to $17,504,700.
Bolton and Menk explained to the council that the project’s equipment cost on the bid was higher than they had expected two months earlier, and that site work was also higher due to the limited space the contractor would have at the project site.
The city plans to apply for a forgivable loan for the project from the state of Iowa in the range of $1 million to $1 ½ million. The city is eligible for the loan, but funds are limited and approval is on a first come, first served basis.
The cost of the project is close to twice the cost of $8 million to $12 million discussed when the city first started considering the project about two years ago. Improvement of the plant is necessary in order to meet the new higher standards of the state for plant operation.
The increased cost of the project induced the council to revise a sewer fee rate increase proposal that it had approved at a recent meeting. The new schedule would be increases of 15 percent per year for the next five years, after which the rates would be increased annually by the rate of inflation. The new schedule would replace the formerly approved schedule of increases of 11 percent per year for the next five years, followed by inflation increases.
The council also approved a resolution setting the date for a public hearing on the financing plans for the project. The hearing will be held at the next council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 12, at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers at city hall.
The council, at a recent meeting, had set a $16 million limit on the revenue bond issue to provide funding, but because of the higher bid for the project, the resolution amended the previous proposal to a maximum of $21 million in bonds.
Revenue bonds are financed by user fees rather than general obligation bonds.
POSSIBLE LIBRARY EXPANSION
The council also heard a presentation from the committee that has been developing a proposal for improvement of the Jefferson Public Library.
Pete Franks, project consultant of Franks Design Group of Glenwood, presented the findings of the architectural study group commissioned by the library board of trustees. He said the committee considered four options:
• Option A: renovating the existing Carnegie Library, demolishing the current 1967 addition, and building a new three-story addition to the west of the Carnegie building where the current addition sits. Total square footage 20,983, cost $10.4 million.
• Option B: constructing a new one-story library on a different site. Total square footage 25,371, cost $8.8 million.
• Option C: acquiring and renovating the existing Wells Fargo bank building. Total square footage 23,876, cost $9.7 million.
• Option D: acquiring the quarter-block immediately to the north of the library in order to expand the facility, renovating the existing Carnegie Library, demolishing the current 1967 addition, and building a new addition and basement to the west of the Carnegie where the current l967 addition sits. Total square footage 28,539, cost $9.7 million.
An overwhelming majority of the study group members recommended Option D, assuming the house and office building in the targeted quarter-block can be acquired. They stated that Option D retains the historic Carnegie library building and the downtown location, while offering the benefits of economical one-story new construction to help with efficiency in the workplace and the expansion of staff workspace and programming space. The cost estimate of Option D does not included acquisition costs of the quarter-block.
The architectural study group, composed of 16 citizens including some with city and library connections, as well as the eight-member library board of trustees, library administrators, and the board of directors of the Friends of the Library, were acknowledged in the 49-page written report.
Susan Laehn, chair of the library board, said the committee wants to do as much as possible of the proposed project through grants and donations. She emphasized the need for additional space for the library’s collections as well as its programming, meetings and services.
The council informally indicated it would direct the library staff to explore acquiring the two properties to the north and closing the half block of the existing alley between the existing library and the proposed quarter-block acquisition.
NOTABLE COUNCIL ACTION
• In other action, the council awarded the bid for the sanitary sewer lining project for the southeast quadrant of the city to low bidder Accujet LLC of Perry. Accujet’s base bid was $241,105. Five other bids were also received ranging from $275,907 up to $339,360. The Accujet base bid was about 11 ½ percent lower than the engineer’s final estimate for the base bid.
• The council, on recommendation of Bolton and Menk, approved two alternates for the sewer lining project, extending the area to be covered. The total area now includes most of the quadrant from Russell Street north to Lincolnway and from Wilson Avenue east to Cedar Street. (The six blocks in the quadrant lying north of Monroe and west of Locust, almost all of it in the business district, would be excluded.)
The two alternates in the project’s area add $94,730 to the cost, bringing the total to $335,835. The project will be funded with $306,000 of American Rescue Program Act (ARPA) federal money, and the remaining $29,835 with local option sales tax funds.
• Five annual appropriations for rebate payments under the city’s tax increment financing (TIF) authority were approved. They are as follows:
- Jefferson Hotel Group Development Agreement (Cobblestone Hotel), $101,200.
- Lincoln Ridge Estates Development Agreements (housing area in the western part of the city), $34,000.
- Michael and Miranda Wahl Development Agreement (Wahl-McAtee Tire and Service Inc. on North Highway 4), $19,000
- Jefferson Veterinary Clinic Development Agreement (vet clinic on Highway 30 east of the four-way stop), $14,600.
- Briarwood Development Agreement (housing area in the western part of the city), $6,200.
• The council approved a leave donation policy which allows city employees to donate sick, vacation, and/or compensatory time from their unused balances into a “leave bank” for other employees. Rules proposed for the policy were approved.
• The council appointed councilmembers Darren Jackson and Matt Wetrich to represent the city on the new animal shelter committee. Mayor Matt Gordon recommended the appointments.
The Jefferson City Council meets regularly the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers at city hall.