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News

Geneva wastewater treatment plant to get equipment replaced

Aldermen recommend $609K contract for pumps, flow meters, polymer feed unit

Geneva 1st Ward Alderman Tara Burghart (left) listens as 3rd Ward Alderman Dean Kilburg asks Superintendent of Water and Wastewater Bob VanGyseghem how the water department would know if they were being low-balled on a bid, only to be hit with expensive change orders later at Tuesday's Committee of the Whole meeting.
Geneva 1st Ward Alderman Tara Burghart (left) listens as 3rd Ward Alderman Dean Kilburg asks Superintendent of Water and Wastewater Bob VanGyseghem how the water department would know if they were being low-balled on a bid, only to be hit with expensive change orders later at Tuesday's Committee of the Whole meeting.

GENEVA – Aldermen recommended spending $609,000 Tuesday to replace six pumps, four solids flow meters and a polymer feed unit for the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

The solids flow meters weigh and measure solids as part of sludge treatment. Polymer is used to coagulate suspended solids.

Acting as the Committee of the Whole, aldermen unanimously recommended approval of a contract with Mechanical Inc. for the solids handling improvements, and an additional $60,000 as a 10% contingency.

City Administrator Stephanie Dawkins said the money was allocated in the city's Fiscal Year 20 capital budget.

“These items were combined into one bid package,” Dawkins said. “We received four bids. The low bid was submitted by Mechanical Inc. for $609,000. Mechanical Inc. was the mechanical contractor during the 2004 Phase II expansion of the wastewater treatment plant.”

Dawkins said staff recommended a 10% contingency be included not to exceed $60,000 for any unforeseen field changes that may occur.

“Obviously, any of those changes would require approval by myself prior to being applied to the contingency,” Dawkins said.

Third Ward Alderman Dean Kilburg asked how the water department would know if they were being low-balled on a bid, only to be hit with expensive change orders later.

“If the change order comes into play, actually the other companies, if they didn’t come forth with any change orders would be under the current bid,” Kilburg said.

“When I was on the school board, quite often, that was always the other shoe that would drop. We’d get change orders that were unanticipated and it makes you sort of wonder if you were gamed a little bit,” Kilburg said. “How do you prevent abuse?”

Superintendent of Water and Wastewater Bob VanGyseghem said the bid package was “apples to apples" so all the bidders knew exactly what the city was looking for.

“I just can’t foresee what exactly we would read in a change order, but it’s always best for us as a city to be able to have that contingency if something does need to be added on,”
VanGyseghem said.

“What may come down as a change order on something like this, is if they pull a pump and now all of a sudden we see that the electrical wiring just is in dire need of replacement,” VanGyseghem said. “Something like that would be cause for a change order.”

Kilburg asked how a change order would be assessed to determine its legitimacy.

“My wife, if she takes the car to the garage to get an oil change, she can come back with a $3,000 bill because they're going to do the brakes, they’re going to do everything,” Kilburg said. “How do you prevent abuse as it relates to change orders?”

VanGyseghem said if the problem is electrical, he relies on the city’s own electric department to advise.

“Supervisors would be our first call to take a look at something like that,” VanGyseghem said. “There’s also numerous other people that we work with on a regular basis that also have good electrical experience that I can call up and bounce ideas off of them. Piping, those kinds of things – we have a lot of experience in-house. … I would rely on our staff and some outside contractors that I know and I trust who would steer us in the right direction.”

The City Council will take final action on the contract.

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