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Over-Cost Meinecke Sewer Project Gets Budget Hearing

With total project costs at $5 million over what city had budgeted, Finance, Public Works directors propose amended capital spending plan to close gap without increasing debt.

In what could be the last chance for public comment, the Meinecke Avenue sewer project will come before the city's Budget and Finance Committee on Tuesday night to address costs that came in significantly higher – by about $5 million – than anticipated when the plan was approved and budgeted.

, the lowest was for $14.4 million to complete the first major overhaul of the flood-prone area's sewers since the neighborhood was built in the 1930s. At the time, the city's engineering department reported that the low bid was about $2 million over its estimate for what the project should cost.

With additional construction management costs of $677,488, the total project cost comes to about $15.2 million.

But the report that will be presented to committee members at 8 p.m., prepared jointly by the Public Works and Finance departments, says that only $10.3 million was allocated for the work, leaving a $5 million gap.

The department heads are recommending approval of an amended capital budget to cover the full cost of the project, but without increasing bonding capacity for the existing five-year capital program, so as to avoid adding to the city's debt service.

To accomplish that, Finance Director John Ruggini and Public Works Director Bill Porter suggest a variety of measures.

The paving portion of the project budget, which came up nearly $1 million short, would be made up in part by deferring another planned paving project on Park Avenue and advancing others.

The storm sewer portion, which showed the largest funding deficit of $3.4 million, and sanitary sewer portion, short $750,000, would be made up out of the fund balances of those two utilities, which now total $6.4 million and $2.2 million respectively.

Porter said Tuesday that most of that surplus was built up over four years as the Meinecke Avenue Project "morphed from a paving project into a comprehensive rebuild" of utilities infrastructure.

"That was money that was set aside and not spent in successive years," he said.

Porter said that spending down those fund balances now should not have an effect on other sewer upgrade projects to come.

If the Budget and Finance Committee approves the amended spending plan for Meineke, it would go to the full Common Council next Tuesday for final adoption. Public comment is not taken at full council meetings.

Pudge May 30, 2012 at 09:53 PM
TJ-therein lies the injustice. "Imagine the chaos if that ever backs up." You'll be in the same boat, no pun intended, as the residents on Meinecke. It has been previously reported that the homeowners on 90th will not be assessed for road replacement since it was just done three years ago. Another example of poor planning on behalf of the City. And there has only been one tree reported to be valued at $30,000. I sure hope you never get terminally I'll, because I sure wouldn't want my health insurance rates going up to cover that. A special assessment on the ill is a much better solution.
TJ Monday May 30, 2012 at 11:24 PM
@Pudge - Not true about the road replacement assessment being dropped. The sidewalk repairs and alley repaving were assessed on at least part of 90th three years ago. The city engineer reports at least one tree at $40,000. Insurance has no relation to sewer infrastructure. A poor analogy to say the least. Sounds like you would agree with the federal government that homeowners with no mortgages or are current on their mortgages should help pay through their taxes on the mortgages of those who bought too much house? A good analogy.
TJ Monday May 31, 2012 at 01:29 PM
@Pudge - I will correct myself on the residents of 90th St. being required to pay for the repaving of their street after the huge sewer pipe is laid. Some owners on parts of 90th St., , north of North Ave., report that the City will not require them to pay for a repaving, as it was repaved only a few years ago. However, adding insult to injury, most of 90th St., particularly south of North Ave., will be paying thousands each for the repaving honor, ten years before needed. And what thanks do they get for this and everything else they have to endure? Just a campaign to make the 90th St. owners appear guilty of being selfish and not community spirited by you and other commenters, the Meinecke delegation and the city. Well, community begins with your nearest neighbors.
TJ Monday June 02, 2012 at 04:22 PM
@Laura - You are an extreme Walker advocate in other Patch posts, yet you like bailouts from taxpayers when you stand to benefit. My impression is you are a selfish hypocrite.
Laura June 16, 2012 at 11:26 PM
@TJMonday Please point out where are you reading that I am an 'extreme" Walker advocate. I never even heard of The Patch until May 14th, 2012, and I don't remember commenting regarding Walker. You can name call me a 'selfish hypocrite" all you want because you are totally meaningless to me.

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