Ken Jones, president of Wightman Petrie, provided the Syracuse Town Council some good news during its regular monthly meeting Tuesday night. A bidding war has broken out for the most expensive item currently in the design plan for the Industrial/Technology Park.
Wightman Petrie thought a better price could be found for the water pressure booster station. Precision Instruments came in with an initial bid of $419,000. Wightman Petrie asked the contractor H + G Underground Utilities to issue a deadline for submittals, to see if the reduced price could be found. The original bidder and Flo-Technics both submitted new bids.
Wightman Petrie met with the vendor expecting to see a reduction in costs of between $15,000 and $20,000, but the Flo-Technic product was bid at $100,000 less. The Wightman Petrie engineers approve the product.
After the Aug. 10 deadline, a bid item from the original bidder was received showing a savings of $107,000. Flo-Technics came back with another reduction in price Monday, Aug. 20. Jones reported to the council he hadn’t yet reviewed the new paperwork.
Jones noted it was an unusual situation and he was not prepared to ask the council to make a decision on which bid to accept that night. He wants to review the situation with Town Attorney Mike Reed and Town Manager Henry DeJulia and Economic Development Administration, that awarded the grant, before making a recommendation to the council.
Council President Larry Siegel asked if the situation would delay the project. Jones said no, he had contracts for the council to sign Monday night. Siegel also asked if the process was legal. Jones said the deadline was not a contractual obligation, he asked for a deadline to have time to review the bids with the contractor before the council meeting.
Council approved authorizing Siegel to sign the contracts for H + G Underground Utilities and for Cripe Excavation.
Prior to Jones presentation, Jerry Gouker of Flo-Technics asked the council to consider the tax payer when awarding the bid. He noted his company produced a submittal and shop drawings as requested and submitted a price on the design specifications. He asked for strong consideration from the council.
Jones will make a recommendation on which bid to accept at the Sept. 18 town council meeting.
The council held a brief public hearing to approve a tax abatement for Patrick Industries. The business was requesting a 3-year tax abatement on real estate and a 10-year tax abatement on personal property (equipment). Syracuse Resident Sharon Fowler asked George Robertson, president of Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation, to clarify the number of jobs Patrick Industries was actually bringing in.
Robertson explained the total will be around 65 with 26 being added by the end of the year. Fowler noted it feels like more people should be hired since so many are out of work and the tax rolls need a boost.
Robertson agreed noting Patrick Industries was already committed to investing $1 million in a building in Syracuse. Fowler stated she hoped the company would stay and not outsource to Mexico. Robertson stated Indiana is growing and he has helped move jobs back to Indiana from Mexico.
The council approved the tax abatement request for Patrick Industries.
A request by Julie Kline, clerk-treasurer, sparked a 30 minute debate regarding the town budget. Kline announced she needed to advertise the budget which will have its first reading Sept. 18 and second reading and adoption Oct. 16. It must be submitted to the county council for review by Sept. 1.
Discussion started when Kline asked if she should advertise the budget as it was submitted in July or at a lower rate, noting assessed values have fallen and the budget is now above maximum levy.
Kline noted the town, not including the Oakwood Property, shows a 15 percent drop in assessed value from 2012 to 2013. Oakwood shows up on the tax rolls for the first time in 2013.
Siegel expressed reluctance to raise the tax rate since it tends to stay up when assessed value goes back up. Councilmen Brian Woody and Jeff Morgan stated they were OK advertising the budget as is and asking department heads to take another look to see if they could cut anything.
Woody noted the council “beats it into the department heads to cut. This year there are some more expenses.” It was also noted the town is looking at a lot of unknowns next year.
Council approved advertising the budget was it was presented in July.
In department reports DeJulia presented an agreement with Region 3-A to work on a community development block grant for the Parents who are in the process of purchasing Oakwood.
Work is progressing on the property switch with Polywood at the Syracuse Youth Athletic Complex. Reed needs a visual drawing to meet the legal description.
Work is continuing on a general utility easement in Oakwood. Reed reported trying to get the paperwork from the receiver’s attorneys. Work on transferring of roads and other easements as well.
The council also approved Jim Allegret to replace Don Cowan for the remainder of his term on the Syracuse Board of Zoning Appeals.
Police Chief Tony Ciriello reported while there has been an increase in service calls, Syracuse has been relatively quiet this summer. School is now back in session and the department is working on a new policy for school evacuations and other similar emergencies.
Chad Jonsson, park superintendent, reported Tai Chi will be held Wednesday mornings at the community center. Sunday, Sept. 2, will be the last day lifeguards are on duty.
Work is progressing at the youth complex. Fencing has been delivered, sprinklers have been installed in 2 1/2 fields and NIPSCO has installed power to the main building. The football field has been squared up so goal posts can be installed.
Jeremy Sponseller, public works superintendent, reported paving will be done by the end of the week. G + G Hauling replaced a valve at the water treatment plant and the water leak along Chicago Street was fixed. A hydrant was replaced at Lake and Main Streets.
Sponseller also requested permission to purchase $1,450 from Blue Grass Farms to purchase trees for the fall planting. He also requested a $100 check to send for a Streamline Mercury Variance from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
Siegel complemented Phend and Brown for completing the paving on Northshore Drive before the Triathlon.
The council also approved a $800,000 appropriation from the Economic Development Income Tax Fund for capital improvements. And approved a clarifying resolution annexing Oakwood Park.