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Colfax approves advertising for bids on $350,000 Fourth Avenue project

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX — The Colfax Village Board has approved advertising for bids for the estimated $350,000 Fourth Avenue project.

Lisa Fleming, a civil engineer with Ayres Associates, suggested at the May 12 Colfax Village Board meeting that if the village advertises for bids now, the bids could be opened June 12 and awarded at the next regular village board meeting.

Generally speaking, it is not a good idea to finish street projects too late in the fall, Fleming said.

Instead of putting a start date on the contract, Fleming recommended putting a finish date of October 15 and allowing the contractor to set the start date accordingly.

The Fourth Avenue project will take ten weeks to complete, she said.

“The bidding will be higher (now) because you are going to force someone who wants it into giving up another job or somehow squeezing it in …(but) it’s up to you. We’re ready to put it out on the street if you’re ready to do it financially,” Fleming said.

In order to obtain the best price, engineers typically recommend bidding street projects in January or February when contractors are looking for work to fill their schedule for the following construction season.

Scott Gunnufson, village president, said the village board has not yet discussed options for financing the Fourth Street project and wondered about including information in the advertisement for bids that completing the project would be contingent upon the village securing financing.

“I would recommend not putting that in the bid because (the construction companies) will think the village does not have the money and that the village will stall the construction company until next year,” Fleming said.

“I would bid it. You always have the right not to award it. If you don’t have the money, withdraw everything, and you don’t award the bid,” she said.

Mark Halpin, village trustee, asked how many times municipalities advertise for bids but then do not go ahead with the project.

Fleming said that perhaps five times during her career, a municipality has withdrawn a project for one reason or another.

“You don’t want to do that too many times as a village because the contractors get irate,” Fleming said.

Jackie Ponto, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, said she did not know where the money would be coming from to pay for the street project.

“Let’s talk about risk versus reward. What do you think your probability of being able to afford it is?” Fleming asked.

Gunnufson said he thought there was an 80 to 90 percent chance the village would find the money to do the Fourth Avenue Project.

“Then I would think you should go ahead. If your risk is only 10 percent that you will not be able to afford it, then let’s go ahead,” Fleming said.

“With the amount of money we’ve saved, and the amount of money we’re going to have to borrow, that’s pretty minor compared to the project that we’re going to be doing. We did put quite a bit aside, and we’ve saved quite a bit,” Ponto said, adding that she has been working with Bremer Bank, Dairy State Bank and the state trust fund to find out information about financing.

The Colfax Village Board unanimously approved authorizing Ayres Associates to prepare the bid documents and to advertise for bids for the Fourth Avenue project with construction to be completed this year.

The bids will be opened June 12 in the clerk-treasurer’s office.

Other business

In other business, the Colfax Village Board:

• Approved a street closing for Don and Leona Ubbelohde, 605 Railroad Avenue, for May 17 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. for an auction.

• Approved a request for electricity by The Lunch Bags and Catering to use the outlets at the Department of Public Works building for four auctions at the Don and Leona Ubbelohde home this summer at a cost of $5 per day. Annie Schieber, village trustee, operates The Lunch Bags and Catering and abstained from voting on the motion. A $5 fee is what the village charges for camping within the village limits.

• Approved a proclamation designating the week of May 18 as Emergency Medical Services week.

• Accepted the resignation of Nick Mann from the 30-hour EMT position with the Colfax Rescue Squad. Mann has worked in the position for about a year. According to Mann’s letter of resignation, he will still continue as a casual volunteer EMT with the rescue squad.

• Approved authorizing Jackie Ponto, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, and Don Knutson, director of the Colfax Rescue Squad, to conduct interviews and select a candidate to fill the position. The 30-hour per week EMT position pays $12.25 per hour.

• Approved an ordinance repealing and recreating the public utilities ordinance, Chapter 1, water utility regulations and rates, section 9-1-54, cross connection control. The ordinance needed to be updated to allow the public works department to legally enter homes in the village to do the cross connection inspections, said Rand Bates, director of public works.

• Rescheduled the regular village board meeting on May 26, which is Memorial Day, to Tuesday, May 27, at 7 p.m. at the village hall.