News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 17, 2012

After review, board awards contract for wastewater plant

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Upon legal advice, the Terre Haute Board of Sanitary Commissioners on Tuesday awarded Plocher Construction Co. of Highland, Ill., a $115.43 million contract to construct a new wastewater treatment plant for the city.

Last week, the board delayed awarding a contract until a legal review could be done on a complaint from a Terre Haute resident associated with Thieneman-Walbridge, a joint venture from Westfield, Ind., which submitted the apparent second-lowest project bid at $115.95 million.

The complaint objected to Electrical Automation Services  incorporating a 15-percent penalty for not purchasing certain materials through EAS under “Section 13600 scope of work” for the project. That, according to the complaint, eliminated any competition by forcing bidders to purchase all materials through EAS or be subject to a 15-percent penalty, which could total $1.5 million.

Terry Modesitt, board attorney, said it was his opinion the board could accept the bids. “I am good from a legal perspective if the board wants to consider accepting the bids,” he said. “I think the issues that were raised, legally we are in a good position and are legal according to case law and research that I have done,” he told the board.

After the meeting, Modesitt said “under case law, the question is if that is a 15-percent penalty or an additional cost if [the city’s sewer system] has to work with a different [computer] system than what the current system is programmed for. There is case law that states it is OK to do” the bid that requires using EAS for sewer computer equipment. “I think it is legal for the Sanitary Board to move forward.”

Plocher was the low bidder on the sewer project, which will be paid from a $150 million bond issue which will also cover design, legal costs and unforeseen conditions during construction, plus a brownfield remediation project at 13th and Hulman streets. That bond issue will be paid from higher sewer rates.

When completed, the new treatment plant is expected to last 50 years.

The Sanitary Board approved declaratory resolutions for the sale of revenue bonds and for sewer rate increases. A public hearing on the bond and proposed sewer rates is scheduled for 10 a.m. Nov. 7 at City Hall before the Sanitary Board. The board would then vote whether or not to approve the resolutions after the public hearing.

The Terre Haute City Council could then vote at its Nov. 8 meeting to adopt an ordinance for the rate increases.

Rates, proposed to increase annually over a three-year period, would establish new minimum monthly charges for water customers of $17.50 a month, up from $15.21, staring July 1, 2013. The amount would increase to $20.13 on July 1, 2014, and to $23.16 on July 1, 2015.

Rates for all non-commercial, non-industrial users with non-metered sources would pay $37.29 per month on July 1, 2013, up from $32.42. That flat rate would increase to $42.89 on July 1, 2014, and increase to $49.36 on July 1, 2015.

 

Reporter Howard Greninger can be contacted at (812) 231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.