Committee Examines Budget

ST. MARYS — Thanks in part to lower-than-anticipated bids for the asbestos abatement at the former power plant, the city’s coffers should be a little healthier.

During Monday night’s St. Marys Finance Committee meeting, Safety-Service Director Greg Foxhoven said bids for the project, which were submitted on Thursday, came in less than the $900,000 councilors appropriated for the project. A total of seven bidders submitted proposals, with the lowest bid coming in at $272,000. The highest came in at more than $750,000.

“This is the same company that did the abatement at the (old) high school,” Foxhoven said, noting a consultant from Allied Environmental said the company — Quality Environmental Services — is reputable. “We contacted them, and that’s their bid. Hopefully that process will start soon ... That’s a tremendous savings to the taxpayers.”

Administrators checked with the company to make sure it understood the parameters. Foxhoven said company officials acknowledged the details of the project and stood by the bid.

With the savings, Foxhoven suggested there is a possibility the building could also be torn down this year. That process would have to wait until the abatement is completed.

“It’s very feasible,” Foxhoven said. “We’ll have to see what time we have.”

Finance committee members suggested waiting for the abatement to be completed just in case there are any significant change orders.

While reviewing the budget, Committee Member Bob Fitzgerald asked about the absence of the annex building that was proposed to be built behind the current police/fire departments. Foxhoven said as the project unfolded, its costs prevented it from being included in the 2014 budget — one that is close to $2 million more than the 2013 budget. Administrators also left out a new pumper truck for the fire department.

The annex, which also would include training space for firefighters, initially started out as a $500,000 project. That soon increased to more than $800,000.

“That’s a lot of money to put into something like that,” Foxhoven said. “In my mind, I think it’s warranted, and I support it, but we looked at it and said ... It’s just a lot of money.”

The project is still on the table — the city now owns the property where the annex would be located.

“With the change in the director and all the other things we are working on, that kind of got put off on the backside,” Foxhoven said. “The other thing (Fire Chief) Joey (Weaver) and I talked about was a $600,000 pumper truck.”

The pumper would replace a model from 1985, which while in pristine condition, does pose some hazards. Foxhoven said the water can shift while the pumper is in motion, which could cause it to topple over.

“Right now, they use it when they have to — it takes forever for them to get there,” Foxhoven said. “There are those two items that are in there that Joey initially put in for that we talked to him about.”

Funding for both items could come out of a portion of the 0.5 percent voter-approved income tax. City Law Director Kraig Noble said one of the major provisions in the measure is to cover fire equipment.

“That’s where we bought all of our fire equipment out of,” Noble said. “That keeps people’s insurance rates low.”

Committee members tossed out the idea of approaching surrounding townships to see if trustees would be willing to contribute to the purchase of the pumper. St. Marys Mayor Pat McGowan said both projects could be placed back into the budget and the issues could be re-examined when administrators get a clearer picture of the city’s revenue. McGowan noted just because the items are placed in the budget, it doesn’t mean money will be spent. Councilors will get final say when the appropriations measure is presented to them later this year.

“It’s worth asking those questions,” Foxhoven said of asking trustees to contribute to the purchase of the pumper.