City council questions sewer-relining project

Published 9:53 am Friday, February 25, 2011

A just over half million-dollar increase in the cost of the city’s sewer relining project was the topic of discussion and dispute at the Ironton City Council meeting Thursday.

Council members questioned a resolution that would authorize the city to pay an additional $511,000 to Reynolds Inliner Inc, which would allow the company to finish the project.

“Personally myself, I’d like to have more information on it,” Councilman Frank Murphy said.

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Councilman Bob Cleary echoed Murphy’s statements. He asked to have the company tell the council why the additional funds are needed.

The additional $511,000 was first brought up at a finance committee meeting Feb. 16.

Representatives from E.L. Robinson, the engineering firm contracted to design the project, told the committee that the money was needed to finish the project because additional areas of the sewer were discovered after the company used cameras to film the sewer system.

City Finance Director Kristen Martin explained Thursday that the city’s original relining contract stated that the cost would not exceed $10.4 million, though the city had received bond anticipation notes for $14 million. The additional $511,000 would put the cost at about $11 million. Martin said the city and Reynolds anticipated an additional cost, which is why the city secured notes for more than the $10.4 million.

Before the meeting, Mayor Rich Blankenship said though the loan would be paid through the Wastewater and Storm Water Utilities revenues, the additional cost would not cause an increase in water and sewer fees for residents.

Another question about the resolution was if the additional costs should be authorized in the form of a change order or as a new contract. In its current form, the resolution authorizes the mayor to enter into a new contract with the company.

Murphy questioned whether the city would be required to accept new bids on the remainder of the project if it was in fact a new contract.

City solicitor Mack Anderson said it might have to.

The resolution was tabled and a joint meeting of the public utilities and finance committees is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Council members requested that representatives from E.L. Robinson and Reynolds Inliner be present at the meeting.

Also during the committee meetings Tuesday, council will discuss the mayor’s non-union employee salary resolution. The council referred it to the committee meeting after no one made a motion to adopt it Thursday.

Without a motion to adopt, the resolution died without being voted upon. The resolution would mean that non-union employees would not receive a pay increase this year. They would also pay half of their pensions. The city had been paying all of employees’ pension, which is 10 percent of their salary.

The mayor originally presented the resolution during the Feb. 16 finance committee meeting, saying that it would save the city approximately $39,000.

Blankenship said after the meeting that he was frustrated that the council neither passed the resolution nor offered an explanation as to why they did not like it.

“What do they want me to do?” he said. “We’ve already talked about it at finance and now it comes to a vote and no one makes a motion? They should make up their mind and do what they want to do.”

In other business, the council:

• Passed an ordinance regulating street solicitors.

• Passed an ordinance re-establishing a low rent for businesses at the city center.

• Passed an ordinance amending the city’s temporary operating budget for the 2011 fiscal year.