City moves closer to designing new sewer plant

City Council
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     It costs the City of Monticello more than half a million dollars to enter into an agreement with Snyder & Associates concerning the proposed improvements to the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

     The proposed $580,000 would include design and going out to bid on the new sewer plant.

     The current sewer plant is a Grade 3 trickling filter system. The new plant, now estimated at $10.5 million, would still be a Grade 3, but an activated sludge plant.

     Lindsey Beaman with Snyder & Associates answered the council’s questions during the Nov. 16 council meeting.

     Council member Dave Goedken asked whether Snyder & Associates would still take the standard 10 percent off the total project cost for engineer fees, in addition to the $580,000.

     Beaman said there is no standard in engineering fees.

     “It’s hard to put an amount to this,” she said. “We don’t know what will go into the facility planning.”

     Beaman said it would likely take another year of design and planning before they could even go out to bid.

     She added that there is no “standard” when it comes to engineer fees.

     Once the project is awarded to a contractor, construction observation services will be determined at the time of construction.

     City Administrator Doug Herman informed the council that the city has already spent money toward the sewer plant project in talks between Water/Wastewater Superintendent Jim Tjaden, Snyder & Associates, and the DNR.

     Council member Tom Yeoman asked whether the city’s projected growth is being considered when designing the sewer plant facility.

     “It’s as big as we can build it and remain a Grade 3 plant,” Herman said.

     If the city built a Grade 4 plant, additional staff, higher wages, and higher certifications would be required.

     “We took in your projected growth,” noted Beaman. “A trickling filter system is not reliable anymore for growth and industry.” She added that Grade 4 operators are harder to find in Iowa than Grade 3, which are already hard to come by.

     A Grade 4 facility would also be more expensive than what is proposed and larger.

     Herman added that the biggest issue isn’t how many gallons per day the plant can hold, but what’s in the water and how it can be treated under current DNR mandates.

     The council approved the agreement with Snyder & Associates by a 5-1 vote. Council member Brenda Hanken was opposed.

     Related to the agreement, the council unanimously approved a loan with the State Revolving Loan Fund (SRF), at 0 percent interest, to cover the cost of planning and design with Snyder & Associates.

     The loan is projected to total between $565,000 and $580,000.

In other city business:

   The council held a public hearing and approved the city’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget amendments.

     The city’s revenues will increase by $141,657 with the proposed amendments. These are tied to the sale on equipment, grants, donations, and funds from the federal Cares Act.

     The city’s expenses will increase by $682,198. These are tied to the purchase of a new police squad car, administration fees associated with the city’s annual audit and code book updates, updates to the city clerks’ computer systems, fire department equipment damaged in a fire, grants received by the library, street repairs, the purchase of a new leaf vacuum for Public Works, various park improvements, the purchase of a new ambulance, Willow Trail extension, new fire hydrants on Gill Street, and unexpected sewer plant operating costs.

     • The council approved payment to Life Line Emergency Vehicles in them amount of $213,048 for a new ambulance.

     Ambulance Service Administrator Britt Smith said the new ambulance should be delivered on Nov. 19.

     The original cost was $211,000, but the bid was revised after a final walk-through of the ambulance, noting some equipment safety features that needed to be added.

     The department has $23,000 from the USDA to add toward the purchase, as well as $78,000 in the vehicle set-aside fund, and a contribution from MEMT (Monticello Emergency Medical Team) between $25,000 and $35,000. The remaining funds will come from the city.

     Smith also mentioned that the department’s 2008 ambulance was involved in an accident recently, at no fault to the department. The other driver’s insurance will cover repair costs, allowing the city to see a higher trade-in on the vehicle than previously anticipated. This would lower the city’s total contribution cost.


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