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Marengo accepts bid for phase II

By NICK NARIGON

Marengo City Council approved a bid of just over $1 million to complete phase II of the downtown streetscape project this summer.

The council voted unanimously Feb. 22 to approve a bid totaling $1,023,974.45 from Con-Struct, Inc., Marshalltown, to complete the Marengo central business district renovation project.

In addition, the council approved two additional alternates for the project. For an additional $36,000, Con-Struct will install new light poles in Marengo City Park that will match the streetlights. For an additional $13,500, Con-Struct will install water service lines that go from the main to each downtown business.

With the alternates, plus an engineer’s fee of approximately $177,000, the total cost for phase II is approximately $1.25 million. Marengo City Administrator Brent Nelson said the bid is less than the engineer’s original estimate of $1.3 million.

The council put the project up for bid last year, and the council only received two bids, the lowest coming in at $1.4 million. The council ultimately decided to delay the project one year and send it out for bids again this year.

Nelson said the city received nine total bids in this last round, with the lowest three bids all coming in under $1.15 million.

“I think it worked out well for us to wait and re-let the project this year,” Nelson said.

All American Concrete, West Liberty, the company that completed phase I of the project, had the third lowest bid with $1,154,582.25.

Jasper Construction Services, Inc., Newton, had the second lowest bid with $1,094,514.25.

Nelson said he does not know much about Con-Struct, Inc., the company that won the bid for phase II. He said he did ask the project architect about the company, who in turn said Con-Struct has been around for 40 to 50 years and is well known.

“Regardless, they are the low bid,” Nelson said.

Marengo City Council also voted unanimously to hold a public hearing March 8 to consider a resolution to enter into a $2.25 million general obligation loan agreement to pay for phase II of the streetscape project.

Nelson said a financial consultant will attend the March 8 meeting to explain how the city can refinance two current bonds in order to save the city approximately $22,000.

The $2.25 million general obligation loan will pay for the phase II project, as well as $900,000 of the city’s current debt.

Nelson said the bond issue price may drop down even further if the city uses TIF funds to make a down payment on phase II.

As for the change orders, Marengo Public Works Director Lonnie Altenhofen said the alternate bid to install service line to each business is necessary, and will be cheaper to do during the construction phase of the project. Each business is required to have its own water line, water meter, curb stop, etc., which is not currently the case, Altenhofen said.

“Downtown is a mess of pipes,” he said. “It makes sense to do it now. It will be cheaper for everyone involved. It will simplify our lives and it simplifies (the business owners) lives.”

UNION CONTRACT

Marengo City Council approved a union contract Feb. 22 that covers the city’s 13 full-time employees for fiscal years 2011 and 2012.

City administrator Nelson said the biggest change is that each employee on the city’s family health insurance plan will now contribute $30 a month.

In addition, Nelson said the union employees will receive a 3 percent raise for each year of the two year contract.

HOUSING TRUST FUND

The City of Marengo will participate in a local housing trust fund sponsored by the East Central Council of Governments (ECICOG). The program is primarily for rehabilitation for low-income homeowners and renters.

Gary Edwards, Marengo, who sits on the ECICOG board, said ECICOG is developing a new program called the local housing trust fund for the development and preservation of housing for households below the 80 percent of HUD limits. It is funded mostly through the Iowa State Housing Trust Fund, Edwards said.

The four rural counties of Benton, Iowa, Jones and Washington will join together to maximize funding from the state. The total funding available to the combined four counties is $256,870.

Edwards said if Marengo does participate in the program, the city will be required to make a required local match of $1 per capita. He said the local match will more than likely be less, and should decrease over time as loans are repaid.

“The city would get back about $3 for every $1,” Edwards said.

He said the city does not need to decide whether to commit money to the program for at least six months.

Nelson said the city has applied for housing rehabilitation money in the past, but was denied because the city was competing with cities in Johnson and Linn counties. By participating in the local housing trust fund, Nelson said the city is guaranteed to receive rehabilitation funds at some point.

PUBLIC WORKS UPDATE

Altenhofen told the Marengo City Council Feb. 22 that he is working with the city engineer to get plans and prices ready for the lagoon modifications as required by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

He said some costs may be substantial for new meters, but Altenhofen said they are also planning to use local contractors to dig new lagoons, which would be a cost savings.

In the meantime, he said the city has to pull some pumps from the lagoon for repair.

“We are trying not to spend too much money because we are not sure exactly what we have to do down there,” Altenhofen said. “We are trying to keep things going at a minimal cost.”

• Layne Christiansen Co. cleaned out the city’s water wells, Altenhofen said, which significantly increased the water flow. The flow was at 200 gallons per minute and is now flowing at 500 gallons per minute, he said.

The city will have to have the wells cleaned every year, he said. City administrator Nelson noted the city used to budget $10,000 every year to have the wells cleaned.

Altenhofen said they also cleaned out the detention tank at the water plant.

“The run times have gone up, and we have done some water quality sampling. The water quality has not improved much, according to the samples, but we have not had as many complaints,” Altenhofen said. “The things we have been doing have definitely been helping.”

BUDGET HEARING

Nelson said the Marengo City Council will hold a public hearing at its next council meeting March 8 for the fiscal year 2011 budget.

UPDATED February 24, 2010 10:12 AM

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