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City Council
By: 
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     The time has finally come for the City of Monticello to award the contract for a new waste water treatment facility (sewer plant).

   During the Jan. 16 city council meeting, the council awarded the contact to the lowest bidder, Bill Bruce Builders out of Eldridge, for $23,448,000.

   City Administrator Russ Farnum informed the council that the USDA has approved the increase in funding for the city associated with this project.

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   “I have been assured and reassured the funding is there and we’re ready to rock-and-roll,” he said.

   The initial loan the city was awarded from USDA was in the amount of $15.9 million. An additional $7.2 million was added on. The city was also awarded a $4.5 million USDA grant. Those grant funds won’t be released until all of the loan funds are drawn down.

   Farnum also shared that there is a contingency of over $1.6 million built into the USDA funding agreement to cover such things as change orders and potential cost over-runs. All of these must be reviewed by the USDA.

   “The USDA requires an inspector on site every day,” added Farnum.

   In December, the council approved an amendment to the Professional Services Agreement between the city and Snyder & Associates. This allowed for an additional $49,300 for contract administration, and $150,000 for on-site project inspection.

   “I work construction,” noted Council member Jake Ellwood. “If we don’t use all of the money, can we pay it back to draw down the loan? Can we pay it off early?”

   “If we don’t have to borrow the extra (money), we don’t have to pay it back and we can pay it (the loan) off early,” offered Farnum.

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   The city’s original loan from the USDA came with a 40-year repayment schedule at 1.5 percent interest. The same timeframe also applies to the additional $7.2 million loan, at 2.25 percent interest.

   While not related to the sewer plant project, but needed to operate the current facility, the council approved the purchase of a communication system upgrade for the wells from E.P. (Electric Pump) at a cost of $142,010.

   Water/Wastewater Superintendent Jim Tjaden explained that in the spring the facility’s SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system quit working. This forced staff to run the wells by hand. Tjaden sought two bids for the replacement and E.P. was the cheapest.

   “We’ve had this communication system in place for 20 years,” added Tjaden. “We scrambled to find an installer.”

   U.S. Filter originally installed the system, and they are no longer in business.

   Tjaden told the council he has money in his budget to cover the replacement cost.

   “It’s a little higher than what we thought,” he admitted.

   Council member Mary Phelan asked what the lifespan would be on the new system

   “This new system is light year ahead of what we have,” offered Tjaden. “Hopefully another 20 to 30 years or more like the last one.”

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