CITY TO MEET IN SPECIAL SESSION AGAIN MARCH 29
The Freeman City Council will meet again in special session Tuesday, March 29 to learn about its options for issuing municipal bonds for the proposed Main Street project, and possibly award the bid.
Both Todd Meierhenry of Meierhenry Sargent LLP and Freeman city attorney Mike Fink are scheduled to be at the meeting.
Next week’s meeting follows a special session Wednesday night, March 23, in which city officials delved into Reede Construction’s low bid totaling $4.74 million, took a closer look at the total projected cost of the project and discussed how to pay for it.
All four bids submitted for the project were significantly higher than previous estimates.
The city has 30 days from the March 16 bid opening to award a bid.
A closer look at the numbers Wednesday night revealed engineering fees that were not part of the bid specifications, which brings the total projected cost of the project to $5.2 million. The $600,000 DOT grant awarded the city earlier this year would drop that to $4.6 million. In addition, negative change orders discussed could reduce the expense of lighting and signage, and drop the projected cost to $4.4 million.
While the city had previously agreed to spend more than $2 million of its cash reserves to help pay for the project, councilors agreed that, since a significant amount of additional funding would have to be accounted for, that should be done through something other than cash on hand.
Financing options discussed on Wednesday included a traditional loan from a financial institution, a bond issue, or an opt-out.
City officials favored a bond issue and want to learn quickly from city attorney Mike Fink what that might look like — and if they need to look at an alternative option — so a bid can be awarded by the 30-day deadline.
The council gave no indication at Wednesday’s special meeting that the higher-than-expected bids would have a major impact on the completion of this project as proposed; that includes the reconstruction of the roadway from the North County Road to Fifth Street, one block of Railway to the southwest, and one block to the west and east on both Third and Fourth streets.
“If we’re putting our heads together to finance (it), we look at it as a whole,” councilor Lonnie Tjaden said. “Don’t dive in the shallow end of the pool.”
“There’s no doubt in my mind Main Street has to be done,” council president Blaine Saarie said.
It’s not whether the project should be done, said councilor Charles Gering, “it’s determining how to pay for it.”