Engineer Tim Hruska had some bad news for the Spring Grove City Council on April 16. Bids recently opened by MnDOT (Department of Transportation) for this summer's Highway 44/Main Street rebuild project have been totaled, and costs to the city are approximately $290,000 higher than estimates.

There was only one bidder, Hruska said. "The itemized bid is not public information until the project has been awarded," he added.

"We've had discussions with MnDOT about where the overages are. The city utility portion of the project was under by about $100,000, but the roadway portion was about $400,000 over budget."

The total project (including mill/overlay on Highway 44 west of Spring Grove) came in at "just under $10 million," Hruska reported.

Overall, MnDOT will have nearly $900,000 in overages to contend with.

"We don't know the specifics on any of the costs, but the price of bituminous has been higher than expected."

Hruska said that the council may still be able to save some money through the change order process, but not enough to offset the higher bids.

"I think, we'd be struggling to save $100,000," he stated. Regardless of anything, the city might want to do, MnDOT specifications will still need to be met.

"Most of the time, there are ways to save. I don't want to say that we're going to save a lot here either, but it's always worth the discussion to have with the contractor."

Subtracting the overage from the contingency funds included in the total projected city bond monies would leave only $88,900, Hruska reported.

He later added that financial consultant Michael Bubany is planning to attend the next council meeting.

Bonding will need to be done soon. The city can anticipate the first Main Street rebuild payments to be due in late June or early July, Hruska said.

MnDOT project manager Heather Lukes said that the contracts would be awarded as soon as possible, so that work can begin on or about May 20.

That's important, since the project is due to be completed before cold weather can interfere. The end date is scheduled for mid-October.

Hruska said that he expects the award process to be done in two weeks. "We're already 10 days into the 30 days that MnDOT has to award the bids."

At that point, an exact accounting of where the bids diverged from estimates will become available.

Summer rec budget finalized

Councilmember Lorilyn Dehning presented a budget for the city's Summer Recreation program, which was approved.

Totaling $10,345, the city's expenses will likely be reduced by $3,000-$4,000 by participation fees, she added.

Dehning reported that the Spring Grove Commercial Club is donating $2,500 towards athletics busing and $500 for non-athletic busing.

The city will aid Giants of the Earth Heritage Center with a $2,500 donation towards the non-athletic programming, which they will help to provide.

Lisa Bornholdt is working with the non-profit on those options for youngsters, Dehning said.

Bergrud annexation finalized

An annexation agreement with Spring Grove Township was approved. The city will pay the township $137 towards one year's taxes on the 10-acre Steve Bergrud property.

City Attorney Joe Hammell reported that this marks the end of the annexation process that began in January of 2010.

Other news from the council

Several city fees were adjusted. Golf carts and ATV stickers were reduced from $50 to $25 by a 3-2 vote; Vogel and Dehning were opposed.

Bingo and gambling permits will be dropped from the fee ordinance, since those are now state-regulated permits.

On a related note, Chief Paul Folz is working on a "Peddler Ordinance" that the council will take up at a later date.

Council members also approved the replacement of several garage door panels at the Fest Building and Fire Hall, totaling $910. Nelson cast the lone "no" vote.

Sealed bids were opened for several city vehicles. A $6,100 offer for a 1990 International bucket truck was accepted, but the $1,000 minimum for a 1993 Chevrolet pickup was not met by bidders. No other bids came in.

Members approved re-advertising unsold equipment, including the pickup, a 1981 Autocar truck and a Monroe sander.

A five-year sewer maintenance agreement was approved with Municipal Pipe Tool Company of Hudson, Iowa, contingent upon Hammell's approval.

A minimum of $4,000 worth of work is called for annually under the pact.

Houston County Emergency Management Officer Kurt Kuhlers gave a presentation to the council on county emergency plans and recommending NIMS (National Incident Management System) training that members should get.

Kuhlers also shared his thoughts on other things that the city of Spring Grove should do in the way of preparedness, including backing up city records off-site and keeping an up-to-date list of any large amounts of hazardous materials found throughout the municipality.

The council took no formal action at this time on the suggestions.