Council: Sewer bids too costly



Quotes to begin work on rehabilitating Brownstown’s sewer system came in too high, officials said.

Brent Siebenthal, president of Wessler Engineering in Indianapolis, received bids of $98,000 and $153,000 for sewer system cleaning and closed-circuit television inspections of the Priority 1 and 2 sewers in the town. He also tried to seek a third bid, but that company couldn’t fit the work into its schedule.

Those numbers were much higher than the estimate of $78,700. Clerk-treasurer Dave Willey said the town doesn’t have the extra money to pay one of the companies.

After Siebenthal presented the Brownstown Town Council with a few options, it decided to push the work back to late spring or early summer.

The town initially hoped to have a contractor begin the televising and cleaning soon, apply for a grant and have the work done by May 29.

“Our thought is we’re probably forcing this a little bit more than we should at this point,” Siebenthal said.

Council members asked Siebenthal and Scott Hunsucker, superintendent of Brownstown Wastewater Utility, if there was a risk in delaying the work.

Siebenthal said it might be best to wait and find lower bids and also give contractors more time to do the work.

“If you give them at least 120, 150 days and say, ‘Come back to Brownstown in between other projects and get it done at your own pace,’ that way it’s filler work for them and they’ll give you better pricing,” he said.

Wessler was going to work with grant consultant Shannon McLeod in submitting a grant application for the work.

But now that the council has decided to delay the work, it will have to wait a year to apply for a grant, Hunsucker said.

“Hopefully, you don’t lose a sewer in the meantime,” council President John Nolting said.

“If one collapsed right now, it’s still a predicament financially,” councilman Ben Lewis added. “If we end up forking over a bunch of money right now and we don’t get the grant, then what was the point?”

Lewis asked Siebenthal if it might be better to do the work in the spring or summer when there is more rain and the contractor could determine if there are any issues.

“The good side of having a contractor do it when there’s wet weather is you can see some of the leaks come in from the sewer main,” Siebenthal said. “The bad side is if there’s a lot of leaks, then he has issues getting his camera in to televise it.”

One positive for the town is that Wessler’s quote package for its work, including time and materials, would remain the same. That still would not exceed $31,000.

“All we would have to do is change the dates on it,” Siebenthal said.

Siebenthal said his company would have the sanitary sewer system mapping done sooner, too.

“If you have the system map done, it will help these contractors bid it, hopefully quote it and get better pricing and reduce errors in the field,” he said.

The overall rehabilitation project has a price tag of $4.1 million.

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