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Bids approved for water plant, infrastructure

By Staff | Nov 7, 2014

The Rugby City Council met in regular session Monday. Council members questioned the engineering fees associated with the water treatment plant improvement project, directing questions at project engineer Wayne Gerszewski, of Advanced Engineering and Environmental Services, Inc., (AE2S).

After a lengthy discussion, the council voted to approve a bid for the first phase of the water plant’s improvements. The first phase focuses on upgrading the water filters. The council approved the low bid of $526,300 from Swanberg Construction, Inc., of Valley City. Geszewski recommended Swanberg, which worked on the plant in 1999, and said AE2S has done many projects with Swanberg. With engineering fees and contingencies the first phase could cost as much as $810,000.

The phase will improve four existing filters by replacing medium and installing new under drains to improve backwash efficiency. A large humidifier will be replaced with four smaller units. Gerszewski estimated completion of the phase in June.

Ward 1 Council Member Neil Lotvedt questioned the cost of engineering, estimating fees at about 41 percent of the phases’ construction costs, not including $56,000 in contingencies. Lotvedt said engineering fees are typically less than 10 percent on projects in the city.

“It seems 41 percent is awfully high,” Lotvedt said. “I’d like to see a breakdown. I think it’s atrocious.”

Gerszewski said that percentages are typically higher for smaller projects compared to bigger projects in the millions.

Mayor Arland Geiszler emphasized that the city is losing water between wells and the plant and the improvement project aims to minimize that.

“We’re not sure if the loss is the issue or misreporting,” Geiszler said. “We are making every effort to account for the missing water.”

Citizen Nathan Kleespie asked the council why the project is being broken into phases, if engineering fees could be incurred just once. The total project is estimated at $2.2 million. Lotvedt said the city cannot afford to do the entire project at once.

Ward 4 Council Member Terry Wentz, chairman of the Public Works Committee, said filters were prioritized as they are more than 14 years old.

“It’s to our benefit to update the filters and be current,” Wentz said. “It won’t increase capacity, but will make it more efficient. (The total project) will be less than $2.2 million because we can handle some of this on our own.”

The city is anticipating a reimbursement of about $250,000 from Northwest Area Water Supply, a division of the state’s water commission. The mayor also noted that All Seasons Water Users District (rural) uses about 25 percent of the water treated at the plant and also will contribute to project costs.

Ward 3 Council Member Jim Hoffert said he felt blindsided by the cost of engineering fees.

Annexation approved

The annexation of land south and east of the city was approved with the exclusion of four properties previously included in the plans. Properties of Alan and Linda Beaver, Anthony and Angela Deplazes, Gary and Helen Laughridge and Norval and Arlene Johnson were excluded.

Following approval of the annexation, the council voted to accept bids for infrastructure along U.S. 2, extending water and sewer services for Gooseneck Implement’s expansion.

Though a call for bids was not approved by the full council, city attorney Bill Hartl did not find compelling reason to prevent the process from moving forward. Ward 4 Council Member Craig Zachmeier questioned the legality of accepting the bids. The call for bids was advertised for three weeks, as required by Century Code.

The low bid from B&J Excavating, Inc., of Rugby, was accepted. B&J bid $315,980 and Interstate Engineering project engineer Wade Senger recommended approval. Senger said Interstate has not worked with B&J, but the city has before and was pleased with previous work.

Despite the 30-day period for landowners (to be annexed) to protest following first publication of the revised annexation, the project will be able to proceed providing easements are granted. Senger said this is not uncommon in cities around the state, including Jamestown, where his office is based.

Final payment made to Park Construction

Final payment of $138,000 to Park Construction was approved. The company did infrastructure for the Chalmers Addition housing project. Mark Voeller, representing the Rugby Park Board, requested $1,800 for work not done to the satisfaction of the board. Voeller said five trees, where a lift station was constructed, were not replaced, and a stretch of the park district’s walking path was not restored to its previous condition.

Senger said the trees were not under warranty and the roughness of the path would be a tough sell under warranty. Senger said Park Construction plans to fix a sign that was damaged, as it was under warranty. Park agreed later in the week to reimburse the park board in the amount of $1,000.

(Full disclosure note: Editor Tim Chapman is a member of the park board.)

Property line disputed

A lengthy property-line dispute was deemed out of control of the city council. Paul and Linda Ripplinger and Derek and Claire Lowstuter do not agree on where their properties meet. Geiszler urged the parties to try to come to a neighborly compromise.

Public safety motions

A $2,700 bid from Jon Nelson was approved for the purchase of the Rugby Fire Department’s former rescue truck.

The council also approved an increase in overtime pay from $30 to $35 for extra time the police department will spend, in accordance with state efforts, to crack down on DUIs and people not using seat belts. The overtime is to be reimbursed from a North Dakota Department of Transportation grant.

Ordinances reviewed

Second readings were approved on the Job Development Authority ordinance and dog and cats ordinance. Pit bulls licensed, vaccinated and residing in the city limits as of Dec. 5, 2011, will be grandfathered in. Ordinances are official following approval of the second reading, unless a penalty clause is included. Penalty clauses must be published before the ordinance is active.

Homestead credit applications approved

Tax abatements based on Homestead Credit were approved for Douglas Pierson, Eileen Westrum, Elizabeth Angstadt, Ralph Bertsch, Melissa Anderson, Gladyce Wolf, Kenneth Nerpel, Ann E. Hager and Shirley Lagerquist.

Committee reports

Public Safety – Minutes from an Oct. 15 meeting were reviewed. The committee approved a $2,700 bid for the fire department’s old rescue truck. Police Chief John Rose reported that calls and citations are down, but Rugby has serious drug issues. The minutes also noted discussion on using infrastructure money to help home owners repair or replace sidewalks.

The committee requested that police determine where trees and shrubbery are restricting views of signs and traffic in the city. A list of burned out street lights was requested.

Public Works – Minutes from the meeting on Oct. 28 were reviewed. The committee discussed bids for the water treatment plant’s filter improvement project. Discussion was held on placing an ad for a new employee. Public Works Supervisor Rick Larson said other employees are working on obtaining commercial driver’s licenses. Safe routes to school and employee surveys were also discussed.

Minutes from a special meeting were reviewed. The meeting was held to open bids for the water treatment plant’s filter improvement project. Low bid was placed by Swanberg Construction, Inc., of Valley City, at $526,300.

Personnel committee – Minutes from the meeting on Oct. 28 were reviewed. Five people have applied for the auditor vacancy. The city’s employee policy handbook was discussed. The committee hopes to have an employee review process in place by January.

Discussion of the employee handbook and employee evaluations highlighted a dispute between Zachmeier and Hoffert. The mayor asked both members to end their dispute.

“This is not the place for personal issues,” Geiszler said. “It’s not comfortable to have ill feelings at this table, and I beg you to end them.”

Building, property – Minutes from a meeting on Oct. 22 were reviewed. Heidi Brenna of Icon Architectural Group set the following target dates on the new fire hall: Nov. 4 for the entire building to be enclosed; Oct. 24-27 for completion of masonry; Oct. 30 for completion of interior framing of the office, exterior gravel and concrete. The committee expressed concern about concrete failure to the east half of driveway because it was poured in the rain. Cracks in each corner of the building were noted.

Rugby Public School Superintendent Mike McNeff requested the committee check the floor in the junior high locker room. Council member Jim Hoffert state that the space (under the stage on north side of basement) is a mechanical room and wasn’t intended to be used as a locker room, thus not part of the rent. The school would have to abate the asbestos and tile the floor at its own cost.

Windows on the south side of the Armory will be replaced with insulated glass in December or January and the south door will have a card reader for entry.

A motion was approved to have police open and close the armory doors on weekends until the new security system is in place.

Ordinance and recreation – Chairman Zachmeier stated he is working with Hartl on the nuisance ordinance.

Other news

The council also approved the minutes from the Oct. 6 meeting, the bills and financial statements and the municipal judge’s report for October.

Hoffert questioned a bill for sockets purchased from a California company. Hoffert emphasized that anyone making purchases on behalf of the city should do so locally.

Total bills approved came at a sum of nearly $51,000 with $22,500 to Advanced Engineering, Inc., toward the water treatment plant improvement bidding and negotiations.

An application for a local permit or charity was approved for the Little Flower School Parent-Teacher Organization for a raffle Jan. 25 at the Rugby Armory. The proceeds will go toward supplies and improvements at LFS. Top prizes will be $1,000 in cash and and ice-fishing package valued at $1,000. Total prizes come to $3,650.

The council approved a motion to pay Ryer Thompson $100 per month for locking and opening the armory on weekdays. Thompson is paid $300 per month for maintenance at the armory. He will receive backpay for the locking and opening responsibilities carried out during the previous five months.

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