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Wykoff waste treatment project suffers major setback

Fri, Sep 13th, 2013
Posted in Wykoff Government

A representative for WHKS addressed the Wykoff City Council at their meeting on Monday, September 9. The City of Wykoff recently conducted a bidding process for their new waste treatment center and received only two bids. WHKS was hired by the city to head up the project, and it was the responsibility of their company to notify contractors of the open bid process. Engineers from WHKS had projected the overall cost of the new center to be roughly $1,630,000. Of the two received bids, the lowest was $2,250,500, over $600,000 more than projected by the company.

Just where was the disconnect? Kevin Graves, of WHKS, cited several reasons, none of which sat well with the council or Mayor Hare. The recurring point made by Graves was economic recovery and construction companies ‘not needing the work.’ The City of Wykoff had secured a grant from the Small Cities Program and a loan from Rural Development to complete the project, but Graves explained that WHKS could no longer fulfill the time commitment required and the project would have to start over. However, Laurie Balata, from Rural Development and Michelle Vrieze from the Small Cities Program were on hand to discuss options.

Laurie Balata explained that if a project is over 20 percent of the original cost, a loan would have to be reapplied for and secured. This particular project far exceeds that. She explained the process would not be as daunting and felt it wouldn’t take as long because they already had most of the information needed. Balata did note, however, that Rural Development’s fiscal year ends in September, which means funding ends. At that point, it would be up to congress when funds would be available for the next fiscal year, but she suggested February could be an option.

Vrieze explained the city could apply for a one year extension for the grant provided by the Small Cities Program, but made a point to tell the council that if the grant was not used within that time period, it would be lost for good. She suggested the city reapply for a grant and assured the council the grant would be received as long as Rural Development was able to finance the loan.

Graves explained his company would address the initial cost projection and the bids that came in. When questioned about any further costs for the engineering services of WHKS to do so, Graves explained it would be a small amount. Councilwoman Larson challenged Graves by asking if WHKS would be willing to eat some of those costs, to which Graves replied he would have to “speak to his supervisor.”

Mayor Hare expressed his thoughts telling Graves, “We better not be sitting in this position November [of] next year. If you can do it, tell us. If you can’t, we need to shop.” Hare then asked the council to deny the two bids so they could start over. Councilman Jeremy Comstock made the motion and Councilwoman Megan Larson seconded. A motion was also made for Small Cities to start a reapplication for grant monies and was carried.

There was no projected start date or end date for the ‘new’ project. Councilwoman Larson addressed Graves and said, “…a project that was supposed to be finished this year won’t even be started this year.” Graves acknowledged her statement, but offered no time projections.

In other business, the 2014 Tax Levy Resolution showed no levy increase, which was welcomed by the council. A motion was made to contract Kruegels Gas Company for 2,200 gallons and passed. The purchase of new equipment for the fire department was also discussed; the council decided to incur half of the cost, with the understanding that the city would have access to the equipment and would be able to use it. Fire Chief Wade Baker informed the council the total cost would be $3,950 and greatly accepted the offer for the city to cover $1,975.

Council member Mitch Grabau explained the Zoning Committee was now generating revenue and asked if committee members could be paid per meeting. He asked for $10 per meeting per member, the council passed his request.

Councilman Rocky Vreeman expressed concern over the First Responder program. Vreeman was told by a citizen the program was going to close October 1. Mayor Hare also expressed concern and was unaware of anything of the sort, as was the rest of the council. Councilman Comstock suggested Leroy Eickhoff be contacted, since he is the director, and they gather more information. Vreeman was adamant the program continue. The city clerk was instructed to reach out to Eickhoff and find out if this was accurate.

Because of Columbus Day, the next council meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 15 at 7p.m.


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9:23:02, Jan 14th 2014

This is happening nationwide. But this case with the engineer is mild believe it or not. If anyone is interested in knowing more and would like to have a big press story on this - I have many engineers who have publicly exploited small towns for millions of dollars.