City Administrator Report

CityLogoThe City of Vernonia is currently working on many complicated projects with many moving parts.  As  the City Administrator I believe it is important to keep our citizens informed about the details of these projects and will be providing these brief reports that will include updates and some specific details on what we are working on. If you have questions about any of the information in these reports please feel free to contact either your City Councilors or myself.

WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT PROJECT

DEQ APPROVES FINAL PLAN SUBMITTED BY TETRA TECH

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality conditionally approved the wastewater treatment plan facility improvements that will lead the City to build a hyporheic discharge infiltration model to handle wastewater year round.  The project cost estimate is at $5.5 million, including a modification to the Headworks and the removal of bio solids required due to the elevation of the lagoons dyke system.  OTAK, the City Engineer, will value engineering cost estimates and project elements to ensure that we bid the best project that we are able to design.

BIO SOLIDS PLAN

In discussion with OTAK and Tetra Tech, we continue to carry on discussions with Clean Water Services to assess their ability to serve the City as a bio solids contractor to manage dredging and processing two lagoons.  The current thinking is to extract the water turning the bio solids into a “cake” which reduces the trucking costs significantly.  OTAK is also looking at  other options.  Our geotechnical engineer (Shannon & Wilson) will review these proposals.  Costs for this project are eligible under the DEQ CWSRF loan.  However, if neither of these two options works, we may still have a hefty removal and processing costs if we are moving bio solids as liquids, as a land applied solution is costly.  In all cases, the selected scope of work for removal and processing will be late Spring/Summer 2013.

DYKE ROCK & ENGINEERED FILL MATERIALS

The City Engineer had an informal discussion with Trails End Recycling and Custom Excavating, asking them to provide an estimate of the amount of gravel and rock the school demolition site will yield.  Shannon & Wilson will conduct an onsite review of the materials to provide a geotechnical assessment of these building materials.  If this source of rock and gravel can be used, it should provide a cost savings to the project, over importing gravel and engineered fill from our closest quarry.

HEADWORKS REPAIR & PIPING PROJECT

DEQ acknowledges that the City’s open Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan may be used to fund the repair of the Headworks and the installation of an upsized pipe from the Headworks to Lagoon One.  In the course of reviewing the 2006 construction drawings it was determined that the Parshall Flume should have been built to a width of 9 inches.  To fix this problem, DEQ will review two options prepared by OTAK.  The construction contract will be between <$100,000 to $250,000 +/- based on the options selected and DEQ requirements attached to this project element.  This project may be published as a standalone procurement or it may be included in the WWTP contract as a new work element – but in all cases it will be competitively bid.

FLOW METERS

The City public works staff and OTAK met with Branom Instruments (BI) to recalibrate and upgrade the Flow meters for the sewer pump stations.  This is a part of the work that we are pursuing to have an accurate read on the effluent moving through the collection system – thus allowing DEQ to fully rely on our wastewater treatment plant operations log.  Public works staff will replace sensors, reconnect wire connections, and with BI, install gel compound in the shaft housings.  This project will require a small contract (under $1,000) to bring BI in to work with Public Works.

PACIFIC HABITAT ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT

Pacific Habitat completed a review of the proposed WWTP development project and compared that to the wetland delineation that was completed a little over 6 years ago to confirm that the proposed project is not likely to impact wetlands.  PH will issue construction standards for staging and conducting the construction project for bid specifications.  PH will initiate the cross-cutting Federal regulatory overview that will lead to a biological opinion from Environmental Protection Agency.

QUALIFIED POOL AND PRESELECTION OF MATERIALS

OTAK and Tetra Tech are developing a process to select a qualified pool of contractors and vendors.  This process will inform our decision on bidding the project as a new construction and a repair project or as a single construction project.

OTHER PUBLIC WORKS ACTIVITY

PUBLIC WORKS AND PARKS COMMITTEE – MASTER CAPITAL PLAN

Parks and Public Works Committee along with members of City Council met with the consultant team of Dan Heffernan and Tom Wood to review the Master Capital Plan.  Progress was made looking primarily at high priority projects that have access to funding.  Parks, Sewer and Water had clear high priority projects.  Storm and Streets need more work to create a plan of action.  The MCP process will be useful in part during the annual budget process.

REFINIANCING OPTION FOR WATER AND SEWER RURAL UTILITY LOANS

In recent weeks both FCS Group and the MCP consultants pointed out that the City may wish to analyze the two sewer and one water loan issued by USDA Rural Utility Services, to determine if the cost savings are worth the cost of negotiating an alternate debt instrument.  The City initiated a conversation with Wedbush, a specialty investment financing firm that works with cities and counties in Oregon to assist them refinance debt.

STREETS DEPARTMENT

WOEC STREET LIGHT INVENTORY

City staff recently met with the WOEC director to review various projects.  We learned in that meeting that  WOEC had under counted the street lights in Vernonia that the City pays for.  The City’s records show that we are responsible for 91 lights, as of July 1, 2013, the City will begin paying for our full inventory of 169 lights.  City staff are meeting with WOEC to affirm that the count is accurate and that the billing that comes with this is planned for in the FY2013-2014 budget.

PARKS DEPARTMENT

OREGON PARK AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT

The City received informal approval that both requests to repurpose the unused Vernonia Bicycle Skills Park funding were approved in concept in early January 2013.  The Master Park Plan “agreement” is on this week’s council agenda for approval.  The City contacted MacKay & Sposito and they are prepared to sign their contract with the City with the approval of the “agreement” by council on 1-22-13.  The second “agreement” requires concurrence with OPRD decision by the Oregon Attorney General’s office because the contract amount exceeds $150,000.  The City will see this agreement in February 2013. This second agreement will allow the City to purchase and install a large restroom at the New Spencer Park in the area generally east of the existing basketball facility and to install a picnic shelter in the area immediately to the west of the same community facility.

GENERAL CITY ADMINISTRATION

WOEC ELECTRIC RATES

The City received word from WOEC that both the Base Rate and Consumption Rate tier model would likely change in October 2013.  Marc Farmer informed the City that in their recently completed Cost of Service Analysis they were informed that the base rate of $35/account is significantly below where it needs to be set.  To assure WOEC’s ability to maintain operations an adjustment will be proposed to members.  In addition, BPA is projecting that their transmission costs will increase.  WOEC membership will review the options in February or March 2013.  The City will watch this closely as it has implications in our utility rate structure that is now under review as well as the general cost of using power in all city enterprises.