Council awards wastewater expansion project bid

It’s taken two years but construction could begin on Sequim’s wastewater reclamation facility upgrade and expansion project as soon as July. During its June 9 regular meeting, the city council voted 4-2 to award an $8,924,610.48 contract for Phase 1A and 1B of the project to Boss Construction, Inc.

Councilman Ken Hays abstained from voting.

Boss Construction is based out of Bellingham. Its bid was one of five but the only one that fell below the city engineer’s original estimated cost of $9,229,400.

Planning for the expansion project began in 2006. A committee of city staff and consultants from the firm Gray & Osborne has overseen the project’s development. Gray & Osborne was hired in 2007 for $677,788 to design and engineer the project.

According to staff, the water reclamation facility has limits on flow and waste loads. Once these limits are reached, it is the city’s job to start planning for upgrades. In Sequim’s case, once the facility reaches 85 percent of its maximum capacity or if it is projected to reach maximum capacity within the next five years, upgrades must be carried out. Sequim’s system is at the 85-percent mark.

Hays said he did not believe the reclamation facility had reached such a critical state that the council should award the bid right away.

“I don’t totally buy into the arguments,” Hays said.

Hays also thought the council was not given adequate information on how the project would be paid for.

“I’m really concerned that I don’t know that much about the funding,” Hays said.

According to Sequim’s director of administrative services Karen Goschen, who heads the project’s development committee, there is $4 million set aside for the project in the city’s 2008 budget. Another $1 million may be able to be transferred from Sequim’s replacement and general facility reserves. Goshen said city staff would present the council with a number of different funding options in the coming weeks. This could include user rates, which Hays called “fiscally irresponsible.”

Hays abstained from voting because he thought he was not presented with enough information.

While the project is cut into three phases — 1A, 1B and II — the council is focusing on phases 1A and 1B for now, which would expand the facility’s capacity until the year 2020. Phase 1B additions would stretch the reclamation facility’s capacity to 1.67 million gallons a day.

Councilman Paul McHugh, who voted to award the contract, said the project had to get under way so the city could safeguard itself from bigger problems down the road.

“The time has come and gone to do this,” McHugh said.

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