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Milltown approves wastewater plant bid

Contingent on additional funding due to higher cost
Milltown approves wastewater plant bid Milltown approves wastewater plant bid
Chris Adams, Contributing Writer

The new Milltown wastewater treatment project continues to advance, with the town council, at its regular monthly meeting last month, approving a construction bid and adopting a bond ordinance.

The three-member council unanimously accepted a bid of $1,598,000 from Mitchell & Stark Construction, the lowest of three it opened in July but approximately $268,000 higher than anticipated. Therefore, the bid’s acceptance is contingent on additional funding for the project.

Bob Woosley of project engineer Heritage Engineering said the reason for all three construction bids coming in above the budgeted $1.33 million is strictly due to material pricing increases.

“I guess it’s not a surprise in seeing how things have gone up here since COVID hit,” he said.

The council also approved a sewer works bond ordinance. The ordinance, said Doug Baldessari of Baker Tilley, doesn’t lock the town into anything, but simply allows the financing process to move forward.

“You’ll notice the numbers in here in the total project cost — $2.22 million — are more than what we expect the project to be at this point,” Baldessari said. “Currently, the project’s about a little more than $2 million in total.”

The $2 million figure is higher than the $1.6 million cost consistently mentioned at past meetings but in part accounts for the updated construction bid.

The town, which received a grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, can finance up to $1.495 million to help pay the remaining project costs, but Baldessari expects the actual amount to be no more than $1.29 million.

“We are waiting on (the State Revolving Fund program) to let us know of any grant determination,” he said.

Baldessari said that without additional grant funding, the town council, although it just voted to increase sewer rates for the first time since 2006, would have to increase rates even further.

“So, hopefully we get good news on that coming up,” he said.

After the council unanimously approved a first reading of the ordinance, it suspended its rules to allow a second reading and vote. That vote also passed 3-0, enabling the ordinance to be published in the newspaper and a 20-day objection period required by state law to begin. If there are no objections, the ordinance would go into effect in time for the town to close on the bonds by the end of September, meeting previously determined deadlines.

Also in an effort not to delay the project, the council, at Baldessari’s request, scheduled a pair of meetings regarding an additional possible rate increase in the event that the State Revolving Fund program doesn’t provide additional grant dollars. The first, during which the new rate schedule was introduced, took place Aug. 24, while the second, during which it will be adopted, will be at the council’s regular monthly meeting on Monday, Sept. 14, at 6:30 p.m. at the town hall; however, the public is asked to watch the meeting on Facebook rather than attend in person due to COVID-19 guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.