Firm underestimated wastewater plant costs

Firm underestimated wastewater plant costs

By DONNA RYDER
Associate Editor
Union City city council members have learned the city’s engineering firm, J.R. Wauford and Co., underestimated the cost of a new wastewater plant for the city.
In July 2011, the council was told it could rehab the A.L. Strub Wastewater Treatment Plant using $1.7 million borrowed from the Tennessee revolving fund.
Council members were told the savings the city would realize each month from electricity and chemicals alone would be more than the city would pay in loan payments each month.
Tuesday night, though, they learned from a J.R. Wauford and Co. representative that the company made a mistake and underestimated the cost of the project. He said the city is still getting a good deal, with the low bid coming in at $2.297 million. The representative added the savings each month will actually not pay the full amount of the loan, which the city is getting at 1.17 percent fixed rate.
Also not included in the project, but needed, are new screens at a cost of about $300,000.
City manager Kathy Dil-lon said the screens were in the next year’s budget plan.
She suggested the city keep the loan amount as is and pay the $827,000 overage and the $300,000 for screens out of city funds. She said there is the thought if the city tries to increase the amount of the loan, that the state could make the city increase its water rates.
The plant was built in the late 1980s and has been patched over the years, with no significant renovations or upgrades completed. Ms. Dillon said it would cost more to continue to patch up the plant.
Mayor Terry Hailey said it is an essential city service and needs to be replaced.
The matter will come up again at the next council meeting on Dec. 4, when the council is expected to award the contract for the plant.
Editor’s note: A story about issues addressed in the remainder of Tuesday’s near 45-minute long council meeting will be published in The Messenger on Friday. Associate Editor Donna Ryder can be contacted by email at dryder@ucmessenger.com.

Published in The Messenger 11.21.12

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