By Lauren Zeugner
SYRACUSE — The only bid for the Lakeside Drive Water Main Loop shocked both the Syracuse Town Council and Mark Aurich, public works superintendent, when it was presented during the council’s regular meeting Tuesday night, July 19.
Aurich told the council it was anticipated the bid would be high, but this bid was more than double the $315,000 budgeted for the project. HRP Construction out of South Bend provided a base bid and two alternative bids based on the town purchasing the materials for the project.
The base bid was for $797,694.60 for labor, $53,112.35 for materials, totaling $850,806.95. Alternative bid No. 1 was for $726,182.60 for labor, $46,117.35 for materials, totaling $772,299.95. Alternative bid No. 2 was for $711,812.60 for labor, $58,272.35 for materials for a total of $770,084.95. With the addition of Commonwealth’s engineering fees the cost of the project would be over $900,000.
Christopher Harrison, business development manager for Commonwealth Engineering, told the council the bid was exceptionally high, far higher than anything he has ever seen. After the original estimate of $315,000, Commonwealth Engineering was told to presume an increase of 7% per month since the original estimate was determined. Harrison noted this increase far exceeded that advice.
Aurich told the council, due to the proposed bid, the project would have to be shelved for the time being. After some discussion, the council approved Aurich spending $70,000 on materials and to get with Commonwealth Engineering to look at alternatives to rebidding the project later this winter.
The council approved an ordinance for an additional appropriation to fund the Huntington Lift Station project.
The first step to annexing the Eagles property, Syracuse Elementary School and the residence across from the Eagles was taken with an introduction of the annexation ordinance. Dave Wilkinson, town manager, explained the next step is to hold a public hearing. The entire process should be complete by October.
The council also approved an ordinance repealing a previously imposed utility receipts tax by the state. Town Attorney Jay Rigdon explained the state repealed the tax and required all municipalities to repeal it in July.
The council approved a speed limit of 20 mph in Kerns Crossing.
In the department reports, Wilkinson informed the council he received a request from the St. Joseph River Basin for a donation of $140. This is an annual request. Bill Musser, council president, instructed Wilkinson to handle it.
Police Chief Jim Layne told the council the Fourth of July went well. He noted the police department’s gas budget is at 37% for the remainder of the year. He requested an appropriation of $10,000 from the general fund to cover the department until the end of the year. The appropriation must be advertised and the council will address the matter at its August meeting.
Chad Jonsson, park superintendent, reported there were about 350 participants at this year’s Tours des Lakes. The Kiwanis Triathlon is set for Saturday, July 30. The town garage sales will be Aug. 4-6. Participants do not need a permit; however, if they wish to be listed on the sales list, they need to call the park department this week at (574) 457-3440.
Progress continues at the ballpark. The playground has been installed and seeding is taking place. Most of the concrete work is done. The contractor has stated the project will be complete in late August.
Councilman Larry Siegel asked about lifeguards for next year, noting a number of issues have taken place at Lakeside Park, including boats beaching on the beach, people on personal watercraft coming through the swimming area when people are in the water and fist fights taking place in the water. Jonsson noted the increased salary will help, but he can’t guarantee anyone will apply for the job.
Aurich made two requests in his public works report. The first regarded flow modeling, where Commonwealth Engineering will go through the system with pressure gages looking for potential weaknesses. The cost of the project is $55,000. The council approved the expenditure.
The second request was for $22,800 for a Local Technical Assistance Program evaluation and reading. Aurich will also undergo LTAP training to be the town’s LTAP representative. LTAP is a report to the Indiana Department of Transportation covering the condition of roads and streets in a town. The project will be funded through local road and streets and will be complete by the end of the year.
Mickey Scott presented the fire territory’s operation budget of $2,433,471 and equipment budget of $900,000. The council approved both. Increases in the budget included fuel and salaries.
Scott noted there were no issues on the Fourth of July and the department sold out of pork chops at its annual barbecue within 2 1/2 hours.