Auburn BPW Amends Contract for Catalytic Converters; Chuck Knipe Is New Board Member
The Auburn Board of Public Works (BPW) Monday, Feb. 11, approved amending the contract with Olsson Associates not to exceed $30,000 to comply with the Reciprocal Internal Combustion Engines (RICE) regulations.
BPW budgeted $950,000 for the project and has spent $567,000 to date. It is likely another $200,000 will be spent to install the final two units. The up to $30,000 expense approved is for testing the units.
In November, four catalytic converters were installed at the power plant. Those units are operating and being monitored. The final two units may be installed in late March. A 200,000 ton crane is needed to install the remaining units. The units will be tested after installation is completed, possibly in April or May. The units need to be tested to comply with RICE requirements. Three engineers will test the units over five days, said Dave Hunter, BPW general manager.
BPW filed for an extension to comply with RICE regulations because the project would not be completed by May 2013. Hunter said many municipalities did not comply with the regulations. An Environmental Protection Agency ruling stated engines subject to the rule must have catalytic converters installed on them by May 2013 or they would no longer be allowed to operate.
Will Advertise for Mower
The board allowed Hunter to write specifications and advertise for a mower, at least 62” cut with 25 to 30 horsepower.
Over the last five years, BPW outsourced its mowing to keep staff involved with other necessary work. During that time, BPW spent an average of $10,341 per year. Before that, power plant and other personnel did the mowing. The amount spent for mowing ranged from $14,545 in 2008 to $6,500 last year.
BPW Chair Dick Hahn thought purchase of a mower would save money in the long run because it would last at least a few years. Board member Chuck Knipe, who took the oath of office at the start of the meeting, said he thought it sent the wrong message to contract out mowing. Knipe asked if there was enough staff available to accomplish mowing. It was determined that after initial investment in a mower BPW may save $10,000 to $11,000 annually, perhaps $15,000 in a wet year which would require more mowing.
BPW will later consider purchasing a heavy trailer. Hunter said such a trailer is needed with brakes because of commercial driver licensing requirements. Only three current BPW vehicles can pull trailers, all of which are usually in use. Hunter would like a trailer that can haul equipment such as a backhoe, which is needed to be transported to Johnson occasionally. The current trailer can be used for a mower, but it is not heavy enough for a backhoe.
On a 4-1 vote, the board tabled an efficiency study on the wastewater, water and electricity departments. The delay will allow Hunter, board member Tom Gulizia, and an official with Baker & Associates to review and decide if the study was something BPW wants to pursue. Knipe voted against tabling the study and said he did not favor it because the utility is supposed to run as efficiently as possible and Knipe has faith in Hunter operating the utility as efficiently as possible.
Originally, the study was to involve only wastewater and water. It was later decided to amend the proposal to include electricity. Gulizia said he received that information shortly before the meeting and did not had time to review it.
The board discussed the study would provide an operating cost analysis on how it can do things right and improve how it operates. Hunter said comparing BPW with utilities of other cities of similar size was not a fair comparison.
“We’re not like the rest of Nebraska. Our water is treated. We have iron issues and a shallow aquifer,” Hunter said.
Knipe asked if there was any estimate on the cost of the study. Hunter said if the electric department was added, cost would be in the $11,000 to $12,000 range.
“We don’t want to raise rates, We want to know where can we make all three departments as efficient as possible where we don’t have to raise rates,” Gulizia said.
West Water Line
After discussion, it was agreed to have Hunter meet with the Tax Increment Financing committee to attempt to revitalize the West Water Loop water line project.
Gulizia asked what was needed to get the project going, calling it a safety issue and a water pressure issue.
The proposal calls for a 12-inch water main from the water reservoir to west of Nemaha County Hospital on a county road, then an eight-inch water line from the county road to the six-inch main that serves an area of west Auburn. Besides the hospital, the area includes Auburn Middle and Senior High School, Good Samaritan Society-Auburn, Hilltop Health Plaza, Westbury Heights and Terrace Heights. There are more than 1,000 customers served. Estimated cost of the project is about $500,000. Currently, a six-inch water line serves the area.
Hahn said he has favored the project during his years on the BPW board. Board members Knipe and Doug Glenn agreed electric ratepayers should not fund a water project.
Hunter said city officials need to establish a water district and determine assessment values by lot or by footage. BPW does not establish water districts. Hunter said the water line benefits the entities in that area and it is the only way further development can occur in that area.