The Pocahontas County Public Service District (PSD) board is hoping that bids for construction of the Snowshoe wastewater project come in under budget on March 18. If they don’t, the PSD will either have to find additional funds or reduce the scope of the project – which would delay a project already more than 10 years old.
A pre-bid conference was held for interested contractors on February 25 at Allegheny Springs at Snowshoe. PSD officials were happy with the turnout of 29 contractors at the conference. The PSD board will open bids during a meeting on March 18 at 1 p.m. at Allegheny Springs. State agencies have promised funding of more than $27 million for the project. If the bids come in under budget, construction on the long-awaited project could begin as early as June. If not, construction will be delayed by at least two months.
The PSD board held a meeting on Monday morning to discuss project status and funding.
PSD board attorney Chris Negley said there is some ‘wiggle room’ if bids come in slightly above budget.
“If it’s within the wiggle room or a little bit more, then we can work with the state funding agencies,” said Negley.
Department of Environmental Protection engineer Bob Koontz, participating via speakerphone, told the PSD how much wiggle room they have.
“The actual wiggle room you have – you went into that pot a little bit to realign some of the costs,” said Koontz. “You started with $2 million, you’re down to $1.8 million now, and if it actually comes in at estimates, they’re going to want a hair over a million to go into the actual construction as a contingency, which leaves you almost $700,000 wiggle room.”
A PSD reserve fund has been depleted and the PSD checking account is as low as it is allowed to go. The board discussed ways to be prepared to pay project real estate costs in the event the project moves forward. In order to expedite the project, Negley recommended that the board be prepared to pay all real estate costs when the Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council Funding Committee meets on March 23.
Negley said all project real estate could be closed for $106,000. Board member David Litsey recommended that the board take preliminary steps to obtain a loan as much as $200,000 to pay project real estate costs and other project bills.
“By having all of those properties tied up in a nice bundle, it will make closing go faster because we won’t be running around finalizing the acquisitions,” said Litsey.
Litsey said $200,000 could be borrowed at the current rate of four percent and paid back in 90 days, when project funds are available, at a cost of just $2,000 in interest. In the event the project is delayed, the board would not borrow the money. The loan would require PSC approval.
Negley and Litsey recommended obtaining bank quotes and completing paperwork to be prepared to borrow money if construction bids come in under budget and the project moves forward.
The board voted 3-0 to approve obtaining quotes for a bank loan of $150,000 to cover project real estate costs and other project expenses.