Street and alley repairs monopolized the June 25 Marion City Council meeting with members split on the best way to use taxpayer money to fix the problems.
At its June 11 meeting, the council directed City Administrator Doug Kjellin to get bids for two options on the alley project behind Central National Bank, between Second and Third streets.
Hett Construction, CNB’s contractor, was the only company to submit a bid on two options.
The first option, Kjellin said, included repairing the entire alley from the entrance of Second Street to the entrance of Third Street at a cost of $19,664.
In option two, the bid of $14,196 was for a partial alley replacement, restoring the eastern 164 feet of the alley, leaving out the western 50-foot entrance of Second Street.
Replacing the alley
Kjellin said he was requesting council members look at the project because the alley is “not in good shape,” plus CNB is redoing its parking lot south of the bank at a cost of $27,000.
“There is little to no drainage and (the alley) has potholes requiring filling regularly,” he said. “Replacing a portion of the alley would benefit several businesses by providing correct water run-off and better delivery routes.”
Kjellin said because CNB has the resources in place to do its project, he thought it might be a good time to redo a majority of that alley.
Councilors Chris Meierhoff and Jerry Dieter voted in favor of the first option with Mayor Mary Olson and Councilor Jerry Kline voting against. Todd Heitschmidt, who is employed at CNB, but does not own the property, abstained.
Heitschmidt said he wanted to research the project and understand fully if he could have voted. He further said that because Olson didn’t request he abstain, he wanted to double check.
“I would also like to have this issue discussed at the next meeting,” Heitschmidt said.
The council agreed to talk about the alleyway at its next meeting by a vote of 4-1, with Jerry Kline dissenting.
Fourth Street replacement
With the recent construction of a new county jail, the condition of Fourth Street has gotten worse, Kjellin told the council.
“My original request to the county (to fix the street),” he said, “was a 60 percent county and 40 percent city split.”
Kjellin said Marion County commissioners responded to the city’s initial proposal by stating they would be willing to pay a lump sum of about $62,000, which included the $18,000 owed for work the city did on jail construction.
In other words, he said, the county is offering $44,000 if the city pays the rest of the cost for replacing Fourth Street from Main Street to Library and Williams Street from Fourth to Third streets.
“Original estimates show a per lineal foot cost of $270, making the county proposal a total constructed cost of $205,000,” Kjellin said.
“City out-of-pocket would be around $143,000,” he added. “Holding to these numbers for comparison, the county is offering to cover only 30 percent.”
Kjellin said the city is trying to make the project as cost effective as possible by removing brick and surface and subbase material to a point where a proper sub-base can be established.
“(The city) will haul away all the construction and road materials, and the county would be responsible for new road base and bringing the road base to the proper elevation for a final surface to be installed,” he said.
Those two items would be “quid pro quo,” Kjellin said. “City crews estimate the county and city have about 50 percent of the burden of bringing it to the point of actually pouring a concrete cap.”
Kline asked Kjellin about the depth of the concrete above the sewer near the jail entrance on Fourth Street. Kjellin said he didn’t know for sure, but thought about 8 to 10 inches.
“It’s primarily a compacted fill and a poured concrete fill on top of that,” he said.
Kjellin added that the problem is not the thickness of the concrete, but by having a new roadbed built up correctly, everything would be compacted in the same manner.
Because of the elevation at the entrance of the new jail, Kjellin said, which was done by Treanor and Associates, the architects, it was about 41?2 to 5 inches lower than the previous existing curb and gutter.
“(The city) doesn’t have any stormwater manways between Williams and Library streets, so we are anticipating cutting the crown down 41?2 to 5 inches,” he said. “So we will need to get all that concrete out anyway to get proper compaction on the roadbed.”
Kjellin outlined the options regarding Fourth Street.
In addition to the county’s proposal, which was a 70 percent city and 30 percent county split to fix all the streets around the new jail at a total cost of $205,000, the other options proposed to the county commission are as follows:
• fix Fourth Street and stop about mid-point on Williams Street at a cost of $110,000. The city would pay 40 percent of the cost or $44,000 and the county 60 percent or $66,000.
• repair Fourth to include Main to Library at a 40 percent city or $60,000 and 60 percent county or $90,000 split of the estimated $150,000 to fix them.
• propose either a 60 percent county, 40 percent city or 50 percent split with the county for the total project of $205,000.
“We have $70,000 in our capital improvement budget for Fourth Street,” Kjellin said. “We can do Fourth to include Main to Library if the county were to agree to a 60/40 split.”
The city could also do Fourth Street at a cost of $44,000, again with a 60/40 split with the county paying $66,000, he added.
Heitschmidt said he thought it made more sense to do the entire project.
Olson asked Kjellin about funding.
“It’s a bit of a juggling act with Fourth Street and potential of the alley when talking about the scope of the work to be done,” he said.
Kjellin said it could be possible to get all the work done in 2012 with the street bond in 2013.
“Bond rates are at historical lows and contractors are looking for work,” he said. “From a timing standpoint, it makes a lot of sense to get a street bond.”
Kjellin added, if part of the street project could be put off until 2013, the city could get the street bond and roll this in to other streets anticipated, replacing primarily on the hill.
“I think it would be a shame to do just (Fourth Street) and end it midpoint at Williams,” he said. “I think it would be shortsighted and something the public would really question with KLINK coming in 2013.”
Meierhoff agreed, adding the council should approve fixing the problem.
Both Olson and Kline said they were interested only in Fourth Street and staying within budget constraints for 2012.
Heitschmidt wanted to discuss the options further.
“I still think we need to go back and discuss being shortsighted when we have an opportunity to share or have county participation with (Williams Street),” he said.
“If we don’t propose it (to the county),” Heitschmidt said, “they can’t turn it down. If we can’t fix $19,000 for an alley, when is this council going to fix Williams Street that is going to cost $82,000 for the city and $123,000 for the county.”
Kline said he would not be against doing all three streets if the city did get the street bond.
Kjellin said it wouldn’t be so much the dollar amount with the council’s decision right now, but rather the course the city is going to take. “We would have a plan,” he said.
Kjellin said Kline was correct that by approving the repair of Fourth Street, it would look nice in front of the new jail, but that the city would lose leverage as Heitschmidt said if Williams Street is not included.
“We could always go for the three streets and the county could reject (the proposal),” Kline said.
The council unanimously approved going with the 60 percent county, 40 percent city split, which would include all of Fourth Street and all of Main to Library streets and then adding at a later date Williams Street, whether with street bond or other financing.
Olson asked: “That being said, do you think the county would have the funds readily available in that time?”
Kjellin said he can’t speculate on the county’s budget or cash.
After approving a street plan around the new county jail, the council directed Kjellin to take its proposal to the commissioners for their consideration.