A storm sewer project that will provide better drainage for some residents on 10th Avenue North without adding any assessments to their property tax bills was approved by the Fort Dodge City Council Monday.
The council voted 5-2 to award a contract for the roughly $170,000 job. In doing so, the council went against the recommendation of City Engineer Chad Schaeffer, who said the contract should not be awarded because the bids were about $52,000 higher than the cost estimate.
''Staff recommends not moving forward with this project,'' Schaeffer wrote in an Aug. 21 report to the council.
The elected officials did move forward, however, by hiring Hovey Construction of Fort Dodge to do the work at a cost of $166,936.80. The company will install new storm sewers on 10th Avenue North east of 32nd Street.
Rasch Construction, of Fort Dodge, submitted the only other bid of $167,278.
The city had $150,000 from a 2010 bond issue to pay for the project. That money was to pay for both the engineering and construction.
That bond issue debt was to be paid off with assessments added to the property taxes of the homeowners on that section of 10th Avenue North. However, former City Council candidate Richard Higgins circulated a petition there which triggered a state law requiring six of the seven council members to vote in favor of levying the assessments. The assessments didn't pass the council and the project was put on hold.
This summer, the council directed the city engineering staff to do the project without the assessments.
That move will result in a tax increase for all residents, according to Mayor Matt Bemrich.
''I just want to be clear that this is a tax increase,'' he said.
Since there won't be any assessments, money from the storm water utility fee paid by all property owners will be used to pay off the debt, according to Jeff Nemmers, the city clerk and finance director. He said that because the contract to do the work is more expensive than projected, even more storm water utility money will have to be used.
''Therefore, it's a tax increase,'' Bemrich said.
Councilmen Kim Alstott, Dean Hill, Robert ''Barney'' Patterson, Mark Taylor and Don Wilson voted to award the contract. Councilmen Dave Flattery and Andy Fritz voted no.