07/22/09 — Fremont will challenge outcome of sewer project

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Fremont will challenge outcome of sewer project

By Laura Collins
Published in News on July 22, 2009 1:46 PM

FREMONT -- Recent sewer projects are draining the patience of some Fremont officials.

At Tuesday night's Board of Aldermen meeting, board members discussed in closed session their concerns about an engineering services contract with The Wooten Co.

Kerry McDuffie, town administrator, said the company believes the town still owes about $40,500 for its services. The town contends that those funds are not owed because they are not satisfied with the outcome of the project.

In a letter drafted by the town's attorney James Cauley, the reasons for the town's dissatisfaction with the projects are outlined. They include:

-- The sanitary sewer evaluation was not thorough or accurate, manholes were mislabeled and some were replaced that did not need replaced, while others that needed replacing were ignored.

-- The town's desired outcome was a 50 percent reduction in inflow and infiltration, but the results don't seem to be nearly that much.

-- Work was removed from the project, but the contract time was not shorter as a result. However, contract time was extended when that work was added back to the project.

-- The town said the company's inspector was inexperienced and not on site very often.

-- Lastly, the town said there was a problem with "monitoring the administration" of the project.

The letter was reviewed in closed session at the meeting and, although some modifications might be made, will be sent to The Wooten Co., McDuffie said.

Also at the meeting, board members discussed an upcoming water project. The town is interested in replacing corroded water lines throughout town, replacing the galvanized lines with PVC.

The project would cost $2 million, but McDuffie said Fremont can get a $900,000 grant from the U.S. Depart-ment of Agriculture and Rural Development and a loan for the remaining amount.

Currently the town pays $54,000 per year for water. The loan payments would be about $48,000 per year.

The problem, however, is the town would have to pay $200,000 for the project up front, which is money it doesn't have. McDuffie estimated about $25,000 in the town's utility fund.

"It's exactly the way Fremont needs to go," Mayor Leroy Ruffin said. "We just need to make sure we have the money."

The project will likely be voted on at next month's board meeting.

Also at the meeting, board members approved switching life insurance providers. For $240 more per year, the town will be able to provide all its employees with a $15,000 life insurance policy, rather than the $10,000 policy they currently have.