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BREAKING NEWS

Project bids higher than expected

But city council moves forward; city will absorb extra expense

By Kevin Mertens - Staff Writer | Apr 25, 2021

Some preliminary work has already been underway near the corner of South Nicollet and West 10th Streets in Blue Earth.

The Blue Earth City Council met on Monday, April 19, and voted to accept the bid from Ulland Brothers, Inc. for the work to be done on the Walnut Street Area and Nicollet Street Area Improvement Projects.

“We only received one bid and it came in at 30 percent over the engineer’s estimate,” city engineer Wes Brown said.

He also told council members why the bid, which was in the amount of $5,260,697, was higher than the engineer’s estimate of $4,072,876.

“Based on our review of the bids and discussions with Ulland Brothers, Inc. and other potential bidders, we believe the reasons for the higher than anticipated bids is due to several factors, including an excessive amount of other work in the marketplace, the complexity of the project and most notably, recent construction inflation,” city engineer Wes Brown commented.

He explained further.

“We had been hearing for several weeks that plastic pipe and other materials may be limited due to refinery shutdowns related to COVID-19 and the winter storms which hit Texas and other areas in the south earlier this year,” Brown commented. “The bid prices for street related items were all within range of what was estimated. The cost overages are mostly in the pipe items.”

Council members noted the project was already in the works and said they felt the city needed to continue with their plans.

“The sewer is in bad shape on Nicollet” Public Works director Jamie Holland stated. “I would hate to wait another year to do something.”

The vote to accept the bid from Ulland Brothers, Inc. was approved unanimously. It was also noted the difference in the estimate and the actual bid, approximately $1,187,821, would be absorbed by the city.

In other financial matters, Sara J. Oberloh, a CPA with the firm of Oberloh & Oberloh, Ltd. attended the work session virtually to review the city’s audit. It was the first year the city had utilized the firm for the review of their financial records.

Although the audio was not good, she did report the city had received a clean audit.

The council also approved the Golden Spike Speedway lease after a lengthy discussion. One amendment was added to the lease which will not allow the lease to be reassigned to anybody else.

Most of the discussion centered on whether those leasing the track and the surrounding area from the city should be required to pay for water usage and electricity.

Mayor Rick Scholtes said he thought the council should consider a monthly charge.

Others felt differently.

“The precedent has already been set,” councilman Glenn Gaylord said. “We do not charge the baseball association and the school for water and electricity. Let’s give this a year and see if they succeed and then we can look at things again.”

A motion was made and the council voted not to charge fees for electricity and water for this year.

The council also:

•Approved adding Katie Alford and Morgan Beyer to the Parks and Recreation Board.

• Denied an assessment waiver request on behalf of Margaret Murphy.

• Accepted the resignation of library employee Corrine Eckhardt.

• Directed city administrator Mary Kennedy to open applications for a Community Service Officer.

• Set the rental fee for Steinberg Park, Putnam Park, Gazebo Park and the facilities at the Fairgrounds at $50/event.

• Amended the requirements for fireman eligibility so anyone who lives and/or works in the Blue Earth Fire Department District and has attained the age of 18 years, may make application to join the organization.