The Mabel City Council approved several contracts related to the city sewer rehabilitation project, totaling well over a $1 million during its meeting on Wednesday, April 9. The project is being financed largely through Rural Development and Minnesota Rural Water.

Contract with Jech Excavating

The city of Mabel received two bids for the sewer and water rehabilitation portion of the water and sewer improvements, which is the largest portion of the entire project.

The two bidders for the project included A1 Excavating of Bloomer, Wis., with a bid of about $1.39 million and the lower bid was received from Jech Excavating of Elgin of just under $1.264 million.

"We're going to recommend that the bid award go ahead, contingent on approval by Rural Development award to Jech Excavating," said Shawn Welte of Davy Engineering. He also said this will be the engineering firm's first time working with the company.

"We did some checks on their references, we checked with a couple of our competitors, we checked with some municipalities in the area who have had them do work for them in the past (and found) nothing but positive things on them," Welte added.

The project is set to tentatively begin in May and be complete by the end of June of 2015. The proposal to accept Jech Excavating's bid was unanimously approved by the council.

Contract with Visu-Sewer, Inc.

Four bids were received for no-dig lining and spot repairs on and near Locust Street, Maple Street, Alpine and Railway Avenues, Cedar Street and Newburg Avenue.

Davey Engineering recommended the low bidder, Visu-Sewer, Inc. of Pewaukee, Wis., for the job with a bid of $119,322.

"Very good contractor, we've worked with them before," said Welte. "They're definitely qualified to do this type of work. We would recommend awarding the proposal to them contingent of Rural Development's concurrence."

The proposal to accept Visu-Sewer's bid was unanimously approved by the council.

Updated contract with Davy Engineering

Mark Davy of Davy Engineering told the council that the city is about $130,000 over budget (20 percent) in the bid and award portion of the projects budget - mainly due to multiple bid openings that have taken place.

"We've had to put a lot more effort into the bidding services than we normally do," he explained. "We called dang near every contractor we knew to get them to bid on these projects."

Davy went on to say that one thing they learned is contractors are reluctant to work on projects involving Rural Development, along with design issues. He went on to say these types of projects often go over budget on design, but actual construction often goes quite smoothly - and the city might see cost savings during the actual construction.

"What I'd ask tonight is to consider an amendment to our engineering contract so that one, we can bill you some of the unbilled bills we have, and two, be able to recover from Rural Development," he requested.

Davy went on to say the bills will be first sent to Rural Development to see if they will concur and pay the amount.

"I'm going to leave them unbilled until Rural Development actually concurs on it, and that way we know you're going to get your money back," he told the council. "If for some reason, Rural Development does not concur with the award, we will sit down and figure out how to handle it...I know you can't afford to get a bill you didn't plan for."

Council member Terry Torkelson commented, "When we do this, we hire you in good faith to do this (the project) and you have bills to pay, and we gotta pay you and you're helping us on the other end - and it's all a win-win."

"I'll always be honest with you - if we're over budget I'm going to tell you why we're over budget and I'm going to explain. It is all honest work we are going to put into that," Davy replied.

The amendment to the agreement was passed unanimously.

Associated roadwork

While major portions of the project are set for next summer, some of the effects of the project will be seen this summer as some road work takes place on Melby Drive, Minnesota Avenue, North Main Street, North Elm Street, East Prairie Avenue along with some work behind some homes on Hagen Street as crews work on sewer and water mains.

"We just have to work with the homeowners to get them in and out of there along with the contractors to get them in and out of there," said Mabel Public Works director Bob Mierau.

"There will be a certain amount of fatigue that will set in with the residents," said Welte, regarding the upcoming road work.

The bids for the projects came before the council much later than originally anticipated. Welte said the reason for the initial small amount of bidders was largely because they needed more time to prepare their bids and do the project.

"Many of the contractors said they needed additional time to place bids and additional time to complete the project," he explained. "One of the things we did during the bidding process was we issued an addendum to move the completion dates to the spring of next year. I think that influenced some of the contractors' decisions on putting bids in for us."

Other project items

City Clerk Karen Larson said Hoskin's Electric is requesting a partial payment of $36,993 of the total $49,588 toward the generator that will be used as part of the city sewer project.

Mireau said the electrical generator arrived last week, and the bill will be submitted for the city to be reimbursed by Rural Development.

The council also approved bond council paperwork that will accept the agreement for just over $3 million in financing for the sewer project through Minnesota Rural Water and Rural Development.