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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Colfax Village Board has made a formal request to the United States Army Corps of Engineers to return $113,050 because the bids came in lower than expected for the river bank stabilization project.
The original estimate was $2.6 million, and the bids for the lagoon project came in at $2.28 million, said Lynn Niggemann, village administrator, at the Colfax Village Board’s March 28 meeting.
Since the actual bids are less, the Army Corps of Engineers is holding an additional $113,050 in escrow of the money the village borrowed that the Army Corps does not need, she said.
The estimate in 2017 for the project to stabilize the bank of the Red Cedar River so the river does not wash out the village’s wastewater treatment lagoons was $1.6 million, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers paying 65 percent of the cost and the village paying 35 percent of the cost.
In 2019, Colfax was awarded $592,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds to cover the village’s 35 percent of the project.
The Colfax Village Board unanimously approved accepting the CDBG funds of $592,000 in August of 2019.
The money from the Army Corps of Engineers is considered to be matching funds, so with the award of the $592,000 as CDBG funds, the only cost to the village for the $1.6 million project was expected to be $35,000 to $40,000 to CBS Squared for the grant application, grant administration and project oversight.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently recalculated the income eligibility of Colfax residents. People in the village are now considered to be low to moderate income, which qualified the village to apply for CDBG funds.
Earlier this year, Niggemann was informed that the bid estimates were now $2.6 million for the project.
Instead of Colfax paying $35,000 to $40,000, the village was expected to pay an additional $540,000.
The Colfax Village Board approved borrowing $600,000 at the February 14 meeting.
Before the lagoon bank project could continue moving forward, the village was required to wire the additional money to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers so the money could be put into an escrow account.
Niggemann told the village board at the March 28 meeting that when she found out the bids had come in at $2.28 million, she had called the Army Corps of Engineers to ask if some of the money could be sent back to the village.
Based on the estimates, Colfax had to take out a line of credit for the $600,000 and is paying interest on the money. Colfax has also paid additional interest because the project has been on stand-by for so long, she said.
The original completion date for the project was supposed to be December 31, 2021.
Returning money that was sent because bids came in lower is not standard operating procedure for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but under the circumstances the Army Corps of Engineers agreed to return the $113,050, Niggemann said.
According to information included in the village board packet, instead of Colfax paying an additional $540,000, the amount based on the actual bids is $426,000.
The Army Corps of Engineers is asking that the village board approve a motion formally requesting the money to be returned, with the understanding that if there is a project amendment, the village would still be responsible for 35 percent of the cost, Niggemann said.
The Colfax Village Board unanimously approved a motion requesting that $113,050 be returned to the village.
Voting in favor of the motion were Jody Albricht, village president, and village trustees Margaret Burcham, Cary Davis, Anne Jenson, Jeff Prince, Jen Rud and Gary Stene.
One part of the project involves building a set of stairs down to the Red Cedar River for $135,000, Niggemann said.
The stairs would be for the safety of the village employees, but at a $135,000, the cost is not reasonable, she said.
Village employees have to get down to an outfall pipe just above the river to take water samples, said Rand Bates, director of public works.
When representatives for the Army Corps of Engineers came out to view the site, they asked if Colfax needed steps, “and we said yes,” Bates said.
Right now, the access to the outfall pipe “is a goat path,” he said.
If the village board does not approve the steps, the contractors will have to stage the rip-rap along the river bank so it is arranged like steps, Bates said.
There will not be a handrail or steps, but it will not be a goat path, he said.
They will have to “step the rip-rap down,” Bates said.
The Colfax Village Board unanimously approved a motion not to have a stairway installed on the river bank near the wastewater treatment lagoons.
In other business, the Colfax Village Board:
• Approved the 2022 mobile home park license for Scharlau Investments LLC
• Approved a bartender operator’s license for Steven Longdo (The Outhouse) from March 28 to June 30, 2022.
• Approved a donation of $710 for Porta-potties for the Colfax Free Fair that will be supplied by Myers Septic Service.