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.