Tonawanda News

May 5, 2010

Board extends sewer project by $6M

By David J. Hill
The Tonawanda News

TOWN OF TONAWANDA — The price tag for the first part of a major sewer project in the town got $6 million larger after the town board approved the increase Monday night following a public hearing during which there were no comments.

The extension brings to $30 million the total for Phase I of the Parker-Fries Interceptor Project, scheduled to begin this month and end two years from now.

A sewer system serving the eastern portion of the town, the Parker-Fries Interceptor needs to be replaced due to its age and deterioration, town officials said, adding that portions of the line have collapsed in recent years. In addition, state and federal environmental agencies are requiring the town to eliminate overflows from its sanitary sewer system to storm sewers during heavy storms.

When the town bid Phase I of the project, it included two separate parts, the bulk of which was $24 million for the sewer replacement down Parker Boulevard and across Sheridan Drive, and slightly more than $1 million to replace an existing water line at the same time.

Bids for the sewer portion of the project, though, came in about a million dollars higher than expected, said Ken Maving, head of the town’s water resources department. The town had hoped the sewer bids would be in the low $20 million range. “We did have a number of bidders. It was very competitive,” Maving said. “The high bid was upwards of $36 million.”

Maving said the additional $6 million will cover the current costs of the project, while leaving some money for added costs that may arise during construction.

To help save money, the town extended Phase I to 24 months from 18, Councilman Joseph Emminger said. He said the town’s sound fiscal situation is also working in the town’s favor to keep construction costs down.

If the town had bid the project out four years ago, when its fund balance was 8 percent of its total operating budget, the interest rates on the bonds would have been much higher, Emminger said, adding that at the end of 2009, the town’s fund balance sat at 20 percent. That has given the town some favorable borrowing power, saving taxpayers “tens of millions of dollars over the next 30 years,” he said.