Sewer bids come in lower than expected

The Hillsboro City Council got some good news last week regarding construction bids for the city?s proposed sewer-lagoon project.

The bids came in lower than had been anticipated by project engineer Jim Kohman of EBH Associates.

The winning low bid, submitted by APAC-Kansas Inc., came in at just over $2.342 million. Kohman had feared the cost could be as high as $3.1 million, given increases in fuel prices and other costs.

Kohman credited the lower bid to contractors being ?extremely hungry? at this point in the year as winter approaches and road and other major projects are put on hold until spring.

As an aside, City Administrator Larry Paine said the Rural Development Administration had finally given official approval for the sewer project after months of delays. RDA had presented its ceremonial check for nearly $5.3 million in summer 2005.

Kohman said the good news about the bids did have one downside to consider: It won?t really affect the amount of money the city has to borrow because the savings will come off grant funding first.

To make full use of the grant money, which does not have to be repaid, Kohman suggested the city add some needed sewer-related projects that would qualify for funding.

He estimated the city would have up to $1.4 million for that purpose, and suggested possible additional projects that would qualify.

However, Mayor Delores Dalke was adamant that the council consider no additional projects until it is sure the extra money will actually be available.

She cited the city?s experience with the recent upgrade project at the water treatment plant. Additional components were added with the engineer?s assurance that extra money would be available?and then it wasn?t sufficient after all.

?As long as everybody knows what everybody is doing, we?ll be fine,? Kohman said.

?But I want to see real (financial) capacity,? Paine responded.

In other business, the council:

n approved the following appointments made by the mayor to the Airport Board: Dave Marsh (reappointed), JoAnn Knak, Bill Wofford and Clint Seibel.

n heard from Bob Previtera, city engineer, that he is moving ahead with the engineering needed to proceed with the development of Hillsboro Business Park along North Ash Street and U.S. Highway 56.

n heard from Paine that a public hearing will be called by the Planning & Zoning Committee on Thursday, Jan.10, to hear citizen response to the city?s newly revised zoning code regulations.

Even though the code book may be ?a snoozer,? Dalke strongly encouraged council members to read it carefully in order to avoid confusion that occurred when previous ill-advised revisions had been approved without notice.

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