Baxter City Council: Widseth Smith Nolting best choice for project | BrainerdDispatch.com | Brainerd, Minnesota

Baxter City Council: Widseth Smith Nolting best choice for project

Posted: November 26, 2013 - 10:24pm

BAXTER — Widseth Smith Nolting is the best choice for design and engineer work on the Wildflower, Franklin and Woida street and utility project, the Baxter City council decided Tuesday.

The council made the agreement during a special workshop session. The proposal for complete design and engineering work for sewer, water and roadway improvements for the project was for $309,920 from the Baxter company.

The decision on the contract will be before the city council Tuesday for final approval.

The workshop was held together with the city’s Utilities Commission, which also made the unanimous recommendation to go with Widseth Smith Nolting.

The Wildflower, Franklin and Woida street and utility project was approved by the council earlier this month. The project reconstructs part of Woida, which engineers say is in poor shape and needs to be redone, and paves the gravel Franklin and Wildflower drives. It extends city sanitary sewer and water to Woida Road from Inglewood Drive to about 1,200 feet west of Highway 371, as well as all of Franklin and all of Wildflower drives.

The vote came after a public hearing pulled in about two-dozen residents, speaking both in favor and against the project. Residents who are in favor say they’ve waited for sewer and water and need a new Woida Road. Others said they simply can’t afford the assessment in what is still a weak economy.

Construction will begin in 2014.

The entire project is expected to cost $2,690,119. After the city pays 51 percent of the project, the remaining costs are assessed on a per lot basis.

If the estimated interest rate is 5.2 percent, an assessment for water, sewer and street is estimated to be $14,116, or $1,378 annually, for 15 years. This cost is typical for a Franklin or Wildflower lot.

If the property owner wanted to include the city fees — $600 for water availability charge and $600 for a sewer availability charge — in the assessment the costs are expected to be $15,816, or $1,544 annually, for 15 years.

In addition, residents will have to pay a private service provider to hook-up to the city utilities.

For a house on the south side of Woida, the estimate is $10,369. Residents on the south side of Woida have city water. Residents on the north side do not. Monthly utility costs vary by use but may be in the $40-$45 range.

The city has been using an estimate of 5.2 percent interest, but the interest could be lower. The city is planning on a rate of 1.5 percent above the bond interest rate, which has been in the high 2 percent and 3 percent range.

Construction is expected to take four months. Once completed, residents would have a year to connect to the city services. There are 53 homes in the project area.

The city received three proposals for the project design and engineer work, and discussed the pros and cons at its Tuesday workshop.

The two other proposals were $315,233 from Bolton & Menk from Baxter and for $270,371 from Short Elliot Hendrickson from Brainerd.

Trevor Walter, public works director and city engineer, spoke to the difference between the proposals.

One of the biggest differences, he said, was the number of hours in construction observation, which ranged from 800-1180 hours.

The city will only pay the company for the actual number of hours used.

Utilities Commission member Bruce Klopfleisch said he liked the Widseth Smith Nolting proposal because it followed the instructions of the request and gave the city the exact information that was asked for. For example, how the cost of hours will be billed.

The council agreed and gave city staff the go-ahead to draft a contract with Widseth Smith Nolting, which will be brought back before them at the next meeting for final approval.

In other council news:

Heard about The CenterPoint Franchise Agreement, which was first adopted in July 1992. The 20-year agreement recently expired. The new proposed agreement is also for 20 years and calls for CenterPoint to pay for the publication expense of the ordinance adopting the franchise agreement.

A few differences between the two agreements: The proposed agreement provides the location and relocation of gas facilities shall be regulated per city ordinance, the proposed agreement says street openings must meet city ordinance, the proposed agreement says CenterPoint must maintain the public ground for six months after undertaking work, and the proposed agreement says the franchise fee cant be adopted until after at least a 90-day notice, and it can’t be effective unless the city imposes a fee of the same or similar amount on the sale of energy within the city.

The group agreed to submit the proposed franchise agreement and fee ordinance, without fee rates in it, to CenterPoint to review the documents. The documents will then be brought back before the council for a final decision.

Met in closed session to discuss non-user fee litigation in regard to a few residents who haven’t hooked up to city sewer and water, per the spring deadline.

The council approved a settlement agreement with five property owners during open session.

JESSICA LARSEN, staff writer, may be reached at jessica.larsen@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/brainerdnews.