By Michael Howell
The Stevensville Town Council awarded a $2.3 million contract for Phase III of the Town’s Water Project to L.S. Jensen Construction & Ready Mix out of Missoula at the regular council meeting on Thursday, July 11. The company was the only one to bid on the project.
Donnie Ramer of Professional Consulting Incorporated (PCI), the Town’s engineering firm, asked other potential bidders why they were not bidding. He said that answers varied from concerns about high water, available manpower, bonding capacity and scheduling conflicts.
Ramer recommended awarding the contract to L.S. Jensen. He said that the company was the contractor on Phase II which involved installation of the 16-inch main transmission line, has been around a long time and is highly qualified. With final engineering costs and a contingency fund of 5%, the total project cost is estimated at about $2,532,097.
Funding for the project, which includes distribution system improvements, well house and pressure control, will come from a $1,320,948 loan from Rural Development, $1,194,000 in Rural Development grants, and $60,330 in TSEP grant funds. The Town will provide $35,000 in matching funds.
The Town also held a Public Hearing on a proposed grant application for Phase II of the Wastewater Treatment Facility improvements. Phase I of the improvements, which included installation of an ultra-violet disinfection system and the decommissioning of the polishing pond, was completed in 2012 at a cost of about $1.4 million. What was initially planned as Phase II and Phase III of the project has now been combined into a single phase which includes installation of a perforated plate screen, washer compactor and vortex grit removal system as well as the biological removal system to reduce nitrates and phosphates.
This phase of the project will be paid for with a combination of grants and loans. It will not require any increase in sewer rates but will incur a debt service of about $74,000 per year over four years.
The Council approved a motion of intent to pass a resolution setting a $5 license fee for obtaining a permit to raise chickens, ducks or rabbits within the Town limits. An ordinance was passed a few weeks ago allowing chickens, ducks and rabbits in the Town limits. They were prohibited prior to passage of the ordinance.
Councilor Ron Klaphake proposed the $5 fee, saying, “We are not in the business of paying for our operations with license fees.” He said based on the time required for processing the permits, he felt that $5 was a reasonable fee.
Councilor Bill Perrin said that the estimate of costs should be “fully loaded” and include costs related to capital expenses involved for having and maintaining the building, etc. He recommended a $10 fee.
Klaphake said it was unreasonable to include the costs of water and sewer and building maintenance in the fee. He said based on actual wage and benefit costs $5 was reasonable.
The Council agreed to place the proposed resolution for a $5 permit fee on the next agenda. A separate permit is required for raising either chickens, ducks or rabbits. Someone wishing to raise both chickens and rabbits, for instance, would have to get two permits at a total cost of $10.
Tonya Eckert, representing the Stevensville Civic Club, made a request that the Town consider taking over the electric bill associated with the Creamery Garden Park. The monthly bill comes to $47.29.
Eckert said that club members thought that the Town had taken over the park. Mayor Gene Mim Mack clarified that the Town had taken over the water system at the park but not the electricity. He advised Eckert to contact NorthWestern Energy and confirm that the meter the club was being billed for was actually the one serving the park and then submit a letter of request for what action she would want the Town to take.
The Board of Adjustments approved a variance request for the construction of a garage at 200 Spring Street. The new construction will not meet the setback requirements in the Town’s development code. Most of the Board agreed to the changes that were also endorsed by the neighbor. Councilor Ron Klaphake disagreed and argued that the proposal did not meet the criteria for a variance in that there was no pressing need for the encroachment except that the owner wanted to expand from a single car garage to a double car garage. The variance was approved on a vote of 4 to 1.