The lowest bid for the sewer and water reconstruction for the upcoming Main Street project in Clintonville came in $80,000 over the estimated cost.
Bids were received by the state of Wisconsin in early December for the project .
Interim City Administrator Chuck Kell said the city chose to have the sewer and water reconstruction done as part of the project with the highway bid by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
“Unfortunately the bids came in about $80,400 over the cost estimate that was done by the engineering firm that designed the utilities,” Kell said.
Kell said the city was given about three days to look at the bid and decide if it was going to accept it. Kell added that he contacted the engineering firm, and Toby Kersten, the public works director for Clintonville, as well as several members of the council, including committee chairpersons for the Finance Committee, Streets Committee and Utilities Committee.
“We discussed this and we all agreed that it was best to move forward,” Kell said. “I think a rebid of the project could have potentially delayed the Main Street project and it also likely would have come back with a higher bid the second time around.”
Kell said he wanted to council to be aware of the 32 percent increase. He also said that’s one of the disadvantages when a city includes its local utilities with the state.
“It’s a package deal, you can’t pick and choose your contractors,” Kell said.
The state also recommended the city proceed with the bid, Kell said, so he directed the state to accept the bid for the city.
“Had we had a chance to bring it to a council meeting I would have done that. But I think I got the information on Thursday and they wanted an answer on Monday,” Kell said.
Doing the bidding process this way means the city doesn’t know who the utility contractor is, Kell said. It is confidential information until the contract is awarded.
Kell informed the council he would be providing it with a preliminary job description and a position community profile for the city administrator position at the January council meeting. He said he will be looking for input from the council at that time.
The municipal code may have to be changed based on the input the council provides, Kell said.
Kell suggested there be a probation period for a new city administrator. He suggested a minimum of six months, but it could be for up to one year. Other issues that need to be discussed include compensation package, relocation expenses, and severance package.
“With everything that has gone on in the community and the unrest over the position, I think that’s going to be an issue that’s going to be important for the incoming new administrator. I would see it being very difficult to get away without having a severance package. I think most of the candidates that would be interested are going to demand to see something in that area,” Kell said.
Kell said he thinks the ideal schedule for hiring a city administrator would be 120 days. The first 60 days would be for recruitment, including publishing the ads and a deadline for applicants to submit a resume. The next 30 days would used to review resumes, interview candidates and select a new city administrator. The final 30 days would lead to the start of employment by the new city administrator.
Kell said the final 30 days could be less, depending on if the selected candidate requires 30 days to move to Clintonville. He said the selected candidate may also have to give a 30 day notice at their current position.
“That’s pretty common in the administrator world,” Kell said.
Wastewater treatment plant
Kell updated the council about the wastewater treatment plant upgrade that is scheduled for 2015. It is about a $3.5-$4 million project.
After looking at the project and speaking with the staff at the wastewater treatment plant, Kell said the project is a “band-aid” improvement that will buy the city about five years before more improvements will be needed.
Kell said the city has applied with the DNR for a water quality management loan for the project. He also informed the council that early in the process former City Administrator Lisa Kotter was working with USDA Rural Development about a grant and loan for the project. After going through the files, Kell contacted USDA about the project.
“Basically there hadn’t been any contact with the city and USDA since early June,” Kell said.
The council had place Kotter on administrative leave in early May. Mayor Judy Magee vetoed the council on June 1, reinstating Kotter to the city administrator position. The council again place Kotter on leave in early July.
Kell said no application has been submitted with the USDA for a grant. He said the grants are based on the median income of the population, sewer rates, and the ability of the city to handle the debt.
On a preliminary basis, they think the city will qualify for a grant, Kell said. He added that for the wastewater treatment plant upgrade, the USDA thought the city could secure around $1 million in grants and loans.
According to the USDA, Kell said it would be difficult to apply for the grants for 2015.
Kell said he thinks the city might want to look at a larger project, considering the potential to receive grants.
“There are a lot of needs down there, and if this agency is willing to come on board and do a significant grant with you, you might want to try and do more on the frontend of this thing than let it wait,” Kell said.
He said he didn’t think he had the time, and didn’t think the city would want to pay him to fill out application for the grant. He didn’t believe he would still be with the city to follow through with the grant. He suggested hiring the city’s engineers to write the grant application and work with the USDA.
Kell didn’t have any figures as to what that would cost.
A motion was made to allow administrator Kell to pursue grant opportunities and conduct more research on the project. It passed unanimously. Alderman Bill Zienert was absent from the meeting.
Complaint against mayor
The council voted 7-2 to adjourn to closed session. Alderman Phil Rath and Alderwoman Lois Bressette voted against moving to closed session.
According to the agenda for the meeting, the closed session was for “conferring with legal counsel for the governmental body who is rendering oral or written advice concerning strategy to be adopted by the body with respect to litigation in which it is or is likely to become involved/Chapter 17 complaint against Mayor Judith Magee.”
Shortly after closed session began, Magee left closed session.
A little more than two hours later, Magee was summoned back to closed session. A short time later the council reconvened in open session and it was announced that no action was taken.
Kell asked the council to approve an additional 40 hours of consulting time for Mandy Kriesel to provide training for Stacy Zachow, the new utility accountant. Kriesel held the position prior to Zachow.
He said Zachow had been trained for 10 hours so far, but there was still quite a bit she needed to be trained on.
“They felt that 10 hours a week for the next four weeks in January should do the trick,” Kell said.
He added that he’d like Zachow to go through an entire meeting cycle with the utility board, so she can get accustomed to what has to be done in that process.
Kell told the board Zachow is doing “very well” and is a quick learner, but enough time hasn’t been spent with her to show her everything that has to be done.
The cost of the additional consulting time would be $3,000. That would be split with the electric and wastewater department budgets.
The motion was passed unanimously.