By DAVE MARTIN
Devoting nearly all of Monday’s meeting to proposed sewer projects, the Middlebury Town Council awarded contracts for the three major projects, introduced a bond ordinance for borrowing money to finance them and introduced a proposed rate ordinance to repay the bonds.
If approved, sewer rates in Middlebury would increase by 44 percent across-the-board for all customers.
Upon the recommendation of engineering firm Donahue & Associates of Indianapolis, the council awarded contracts to the lowest bidders on each of the projects.
Fetters Construction Co. Inc. of Auburn was hired for Contract A, the most costly project. It is a wastewater treatment plant and lift station improvement project designed to increase Middlebury’s treatment plant capacity. On Feb. 18, Fetters bid $9.22 million and beat out 10 competitors.
However, upon Donahue’s recommendation, council members approved an option on the project that will add another $78,000 to the price tag.
The council hired Selge Construction of Niles, Mich., to install an interceptor, or gravity, sewer at the Popcorn Lift Station for $558,953. Contract B also calls for installing a new forced main from the existing North Lift Station in Middlebury to the town’s wastewater treatment plant.
Selge was tapped again for proposed Contract C, which calls for upgrading the Spring Valley 2 Lift Station and telemetry at all of the town’s lift stations for $864,000.
Approval of the bids is subject to revenue bond financing being available and other contingencies.
Donahue representative Steve Gress told the council that Middlebury will receive an exceptionally low interest rate of 1.5 percent on a Special Revenue Fund loan for the projects from the state of Indiana.
The council also introduced an ordinance to revise the amount of the bond for the sewer projects to $13,585,000. The council will hold the second and final readings on the proposed ordinance later this month.
The proposed 44 percent sanitary sewer rate increase, which could receive final approval at the next meeting at 6 p.m. March 18, would raise the monthly charge for a customer rated at 4,000 gallons of use from $23.81 to $34.25.
Town attorney Craig Buche said that Middlebury has not increased sewer rates since 2001.
Groundbreaking on the proposed infrastructure projects is expected at the beginning of May, according to Town Manager Mark Salee. It will take about a year-and-a-half to complete all three projects.