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Hartselle sewer bid $1 million over budget

By Deangelo McDaniel 340-2469

HARTSELLE — The City Council's reserve account may soon take another significant hit.

The low bid to get sewer under Interstate 65 to city-owned property near Alabama 36 was more than $1 million above what the council budgeted.

"We've got to step back and examine the scope of the work," Mayor Dwight Tankersley said.

Morgan Contractors of Baker, Fla., submitted the low bid of $1.635 million. The highest bid was $1.9 million. Hartselle budgeted $558,000 for the project.

"One of the first things we're going to do is let the engineering firm meet with the low bidder and evaluate some of the items in the bid," Tankersley said.

In November, William Shepherd of Municipal Consultants in Birmingham warned Hartselle that the price might exceed $1 million because of the tunnel the city must bore beneath I-65.

Tankersley said Hartselle Utilities was responsible for $377,000 of the low bid because HU included bores for gas and water lines.

Still, this puts the council in a position to find another $800,000 in city revenue to fund the project.

Council President Kenny Thompson said the city has no choice but to continue with the project because "we've got this land that has to have sewer."

In June, the city made a commitment to pay more than $2 million for 18.8 acres near I-65 and Alabama 36.The agreement with NBC Inc., a family-owned corporation, required Hartselle to pay $555,000 down and $27,669 monthly for the next five years.

So far, developers have shied away from the property because it does not have sewer.

Boring under I-65?

City leaders could save money by boring under I-65 and using a force main instead of a tunnel that allows gravity flow.

There's more than city property waiting for sewer. John Dumas agreed to annex his 18-acre residential development on East Byrd Road because Hartselle told him sewer was coming.

Dumas initially submitted plans that included septic tanks. City leaders persuaded him to scrap those plans and wait for sewer.

Tankersley said none of the bidders selected to bid on a bore because of problems a contractor had at I-65 and Thompson Road.

"They hit rock in the median," he said.

Hartselle Utilities has an encasement under I-65 at Thompson Road to the east side of the interstate.

But to get sewer there, HU has to run a line from U.S. 31. The utility has engineering plans for the line, but the company must get easements.

HU General Manager Ferrell Vest said in February that he couldn't give an estimate on the cost of running a sewer line from U.S. 31 to property that local attorney Jeff Gray, Kathy White Goodwin and Johnny Goodwin own.

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