The Mabel City Council reviewed a letter from Davy Engineering at it's meeting last Wednesday night and followed the recommendation of Mark Davy to accept bids for three portions of the water and sewer system improvement project, but to reject the bid for the standpipe, which Davy said came in over budget.

The bids for the project were opened and read on Wednesday, Sept. 18. A total of seven bids were received from six contractors. Only one bid for proposal number one - the standpipe - was received. Two bids were received for the second part of the project, which is the demolition of the existing standpipe. The third proposal, which includes the electrical work for the water system, had three bids. One bid for the fourth part, repairs at the wastewater treatment plant, was also received.

The letter from Davy explained that the sole bid for the standpipe was received from Engineering America, Inc., of Oakdale, Minn. The base bid came in at $417,000.

"We recommend the bid be rejected," Davy wrote. "This bid is approximately $100,000 higher than our estimate and $140,000 higher than the preliminary budget provided by the supplier. We recommend rebidding this proposal and expanding the options to include an additional bolted steel-type tank to improve the competition."

In the discussion that followed this recommendation, Bob Mierau, the city's public works director, explained that there would be an cost to the city of a couple thousand dollars to rebid the project, but it would likely save the city over $100,000 in the long run.

"We have to hope there will be more than one bidder," Mierau added.

Davy explained, in his letter to the council, "We will recommend changes be made, including alternate styles of tanks, in order to encourage additional competition."

The plan to rebid has to be approved by Rural Development, which is providing funding for the water and sewer improvement project. However, due to the government being "shut down," that concurrence will have to wait.

Mierau told the council that he is still optimistic that the construction will remain on schedule. The project is scheduled to be completed next fall, with the new standpipe becoming operational in October of 2014.

The council agreed to rebid the first portion, for the standpipe, and to accept the recommended bidders for the remaining portions.

Iseler Demolition of Romeo, Mich., was awarded the bid for the demolition of the existing standpipe after the new standpipe is constructed and ready to be placed into service. The cost for that portion was $20,600.

The contractor approved for the third proposal, the electrical work, was awarded to Hoskins Electric of Caledonia for $49,588.

Davy wrote, "Proposal three includes providing standby power in the form of a natural gas engine driven generator at well station number four. An alternate bid for providing the water system with supervising control and data acquisition (SCADA) system and merging it with the existing wastewater system, SCADA was also listed as an alternate bid for an additional cost of $64,000."

However, Davy also explained that following a discussion with the city, utilizing funding for water main replacement was more important than the SCADA system for the water system. Therefore, the alternate bid was not awarded.

Finally, the bid for the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) repairs, proposal four, was awarded to Wapasha Construction of Winona for $84,000.

"Proposal four is to take place over a short completion period in order to make steel repairs to the aerobic sludge digester and aeration tank partition walls," Davy's letter explained. "The WWTP package plant will need to be taken out of service temporarily and wastewater stored in the existing reed bed structure while repairs are made."

The total recommended awards, made at the meeting last week, totaled $154,188. The approved portions and the standpipe proposal, which will be rebid, make up the first phase of the project.

Additional aspects of this project include sanitary sewer and water rehabilitation and water meter installation. The total estimated project costs exceed $2 million.

Funding will come in the form of a loan and partial grant from Rural Development.

Other business

In other matters, the council handled the following issues.

• In his public works report, Mierau reminded the council of a public hearing to be held on Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. to hear public comment on a variance request by Diane Wilder on her property at 610 East Fillmore Avenue. The application requests permission to build a garage addition that would require a five-foot variance to the required 25-foot front set-back.

• Mierau also requested that the city approve the purchase of two wireless thermostats for the community center to help regulate the interior temperature. Currently, the system is complicated and requires a city employee to change the settings outside. The thermostats will cost $400 a piece for a total cost of $1,000 with installation. The council approved the purchase.

• Clerk Karen Larson reported that the representative from FEMA had toured the community and reviewed documentation of the damage created by the flooding in June. "He worked with us very well," Larson said. Mierau also commented that he was very pleased with how the meetings had gone and were optimistic that the city would be reimbursed for the majority of costs associated with the cleanup and repairs to damaged property.

• It was noted that it is still unknown if there will be money available from FEMA for flood mitigation. If possible, FEMA provides funds to assist states and communities implement measures that reduce or eliminate the long-term risk of flood damage to buildings, manufactured homes and other structures.