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Walsenburg over $1million short on new plant

by Brian Orr

WALSENBURG- The Walsenburg City Council met with a full quorum on Tuesday night, and were told by City Administrator Alan Hein that the construction bids to build Walsenburg’s new wastewater treatment facility came in ten to twelve percent higher than what engineers had estimated.  The lowest bid came in at $5,331.00.  The city has in the bank only $3,800.00 for this project.

    The City had hoped that in the tough economic climate, the bidding would have been more competitive, and were hoping for bids ten percent under the engineering estimate.

    “I just about fell out of my chair,” Hein told the Council, when he heard the first and highest bid.  In all, thirteen companies bid to do the construction work.

    “They were very disappointing bids,” Hein said, “But it is what it is.”

    Hein said there may be areas of the project that can be redesigned to be cheaper, and perhaps the proposed structure itself can be of metal siding, but there was very little “wiggle room” on the basic parts  of the treatment plant.  The biggest expenses in the project are the electric componants and one of the treatment process tanks.  Hein did note the revamped design would not scrimp on the foundation of the building, and that more and better construction could be added later in better financial times.

    Mayor Edi Sheldon asked Hein to look into perhaps using modular buildings for sections of the plant, and using the existing small building at the site for more functions.

    Hein then moved on to other City projects, including the raw water line project.  The preliminary engineering report was finished, and the City was now looking at taking out a low-interest loan of $2.2 million to begin the project.

    The Martin Lake valve replacement project is essentially at a stand still until the State approves the plan.  Hein is hopeful this will occur in the next few weeks, but due to bureaucratic delays, could be longer.  The coffer dam itself, built around the valve, is holding up well with just a minimal amount of seepage coming in.  Hein reported the State wildlife biologist is very pleased with how much water is left in the lake for the fishies.

    The Council voted five to four to go ahead and try out the six-month pilot project of having the City open only fours days a week.  What day the City will be closed, and when it will begin have yet to be decided.  Council members voting for the change were James England, Erin Jerant, Edie Flanagin, Susan Blake and Bruce Quintana.

    Councilman Quintana then asked the City IT guy Mike Sheldon to make a presentation about the Council “going paperless” and getting laptop computers for everyone.  Before Sheldon could begin however, Councilman Larry Patrick noted this matter should first go through the Safety or Finance Committees, as it was noted in Sheldon’s outline there is the potential for security breaches.  The Council voted to go ahead and run the matter through the Finance Committe before coming to Council again.

    Assistant Administrator Beth Neece has been signed up for a Best and Brightest program, where she will attend college for the next two years to obtain a Master’s degree in Public Administration, with the state paying $17,500 for two years, and the City paying a matching amount.

    Finally Police Officer Art Jaramillo, a five-year force veteran, dropped his resignation on Police Chief Larry Baldonado’s desk on Tuesday.