Cost up again; pact in place

Jan. 15, 2013 @ 07:09 PM

The Henderson City Council has approved a contractor for construction work at the Henderson Water Reclamation Facility, also known as the Nutbush sewer treatment facility.

The cost, however, has risen again.

Construction, expected to begin in March, will be done by Devere Construction Company, Inc., of Alpena, Mich. Devere was the lowest of seven bidders.

Engineer estimates were $14.2 million. The council approved a budget amendment that includes a contingency fund of $776,000 and a total budget for the project of $18,597,470. The contingency fund can be recovered if overrun costs are less.

The budget is paid according to prior agreements by $15.6 million in state revolving loans to be charged at zero-percent interest over 20 years, $1.6 million in state loan forgiveness and development grants, and $379,000 in utility fund transfers.

The council added to that on Monday a $125,000 additional transfer from capital reserve utility funds, a $500,000 additional grant and an additional state revolving fund loan of $378,000.

City Manager Ray Griffin said costs would only soar higher if action is not taken. Devere also brought attractive offers on demolition work.

Councilman Michael Inscoe agreed that the project must move forward, saying that it was because of prior city councils not taking proper action that the city, and sewer use customers, face a larger cost now.

“The last major renovation to this facility was in 1982, and before that, 1962,” Inscoe said. “Unfortunately, councils before us chose to put Band-Aids on this, and unfortunately, our people will see some rate increases from this.”

City Attorney John Zollicoffer said city leaders in 1982 knew renovations would be of 1960s obsolete works, but the facility management and crew did not have the technical training to operate newer state-of-the-art equipment.

“We are working with 50-year-old processing,” Inscoe said, responding to Zollicoffer.

Councilwoman Sara Coffey asked about construction jobs, concerned that a Michigan company might bring their own people.

“Is there any incentive for providing local job opportunities,” she asked. “I would hope to see some local people get some work.”

Andy Lovingood, a partner with project engineering firm McGill Associates, told Coffey that McGill has worked with Devere before in North Carolina, and they have a regional office that would manage the Nutbush project out of Raleigh.

“We are familiar with their work” Lovingood said, adding that Devere has brought in local work, some hiring is possible and there will be opportunities for local subcontractors.

“Construction is set to start in March, and it should run through November of 2014,” Lovingood said.

Griffin said that his hat is off to Nutbush facility manager Tom Spain, who has been at the helm there for 30 years quietly preparing the workforce and laying the ground for the upgrades that are coming.

“This is a red letter day for Henderson, to move us forward,” Griffin said, noting the importance for modern infrastructure to attract industry to the area. “In November 2014, we are going to have some kind of ribbon cutting.”

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.