Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Out to bid with continued debate

From page A1 | June 14, 2013 | Leave Comment

Putting the plans for the retrofit of the Auburn Lake Trails (ALT) Water Treatment Plant out to bid seemingly hasn’t lessened any of the acrimony surrounding the project for the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District.

Interim General Manager Kelly Shively reported that the plans for the plant were 100 percent complete and the bid package had been sent to the seven contractors previously pre-approved to bid on the project. The deadline is mid-July for the return of the bids.

Board member Maria Capraun reported the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) sent the district an application for a $4 million dollar loan to be used towards the cost of retrofitting ALT. With a June 24 deadline, the board approved sending a letter of intent to CDPH indicating an interest in applying for a loan although they won’t know if they need the additional money until after the bids are received.

In regards to the Proposition 50 grant of $685,000, Shively said CDPH is sending them an application for the grant and they have 30 days to sign and return it. However Shively indicated the application includes the statement that the district has sufficient funds for the project. He said sending a letter of intent for an additional $4 million loan to CDPH at the same time might raise a red flag and cause the Proposition 50 money to go away.

Residents Jack Podsedly and Ed Grout then asked if the board had a Plan B for the ALT plant if its cost goes beyond the funding already arranged. Grout said he was also concerned about the district being fined by CDPH for non-compliance.

Capraun said they have received a “wall of silence” from CDPH so far and have been waiting for two months to talk to the staff.

“My other question,” said Grout, “was that the three of you (board members Bonnie McLane, Kathy Otermat and Capraun) voted against putting the project out to bid for months and months and months. Then all of a sudden it became unanimous to put it out to bid with no reason given from you as to why all of a sudden you decided ‘let’s go out to bid.’ What changed your mind?”

Capraun, McLane and Otermat all responded, saying they were trying to get more information and consider all possibilities, including going through a value engineering process, to bring down the cost of the project.

Grout responded that since Shively had already worked with Psomas, the firm that designed the plans for the plant, to value engineer at this point would not produce much.

Christine Dannaker, of Georgetown, then criticized the board saying she was “frustrated finding out this thing hasn’t gone out to bid for months. And people getting up to speed? I’m not sure they should have run for the board if it was going to take this long to get up to speed. Things don’t get cheaper, they just go up. (So it) doesn’t make any sense to drag it out and drag it out.”

Capraun then asked if the board wanted to hear a presentation from consultant Webb Owen on conducting a value engineering process. In an e-mail to Capraun, Owen had estimated the cost of such a process at $32,000 plus report time, travel and other expenses.

“So now that we’re out to bid, you want to pay someone to re-engineer the plant?” asked board member Norm Krizl.

“No,” Capraun responded.

“Then why would we entertain a presentation about changing plans on a project with 100 percent plans that have now gone out to bid?” Krizl asked. He talked about delays that could result in the district losing the grants and loans already in place.

Capraun responded that in case the bid from the contractors is too high, the board needs to have a Plan B to bring the cost down. She then made a motion to ask Owen to make a presentation at the next board meeting on value engineering. Otermat, McLane and Capraun voted for the motion. Krizl and board member Ray Griffiths voted against.

The board also approved going out to bid in relocating a water line on Catbird Hill Lane at an estimated cost of $143,000. The district has until July 31, 2013 to complete the work.

The project was delayed when Otermat visited Caltrans with her husband and resident Steve Miller last November and reported to the board that a less expensive approach was possible. However, on further investigation that turned out not to be the case and the district had to return to the original recommendation by General Manager Hank White.

Shively reported he had received grant agreements from the El Dorado County Water Agency for four projects totaling $152,500 for the next fiscal year. They went to the Agency Board on June 12 for final adoption. He said they are currently recruiting for an office manager with resumes due by June 28. He also received notice of another Caltrans project requiring relocation of facilities on Hwy 193. The project won’t require relocating any water mains, just readjusting existing valve boxes to grade.

The minutes from the special board meeting on May 28 indicated the board approved purchasing a Sensus meter reading system for $67,000. Capraun said it included four hand-held meter reading devices plus software.

McLane reported she had appointed Otermat and Capraun to select who will serve on a committee to interview candidates for the position of office manager. She also reported that she was preparing the board minutes with the help of Griffiths and  Podsedly’s wife.

Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.


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