ARLINGTON >> The Arlington Select Board is moving forward with improvements to the system formerly owned by the Arlington Water Company, which the town purchased for $1.65 million last year.
The voters approved in March of 2015 a $4 million bond to cover the cost of acquiring the company and required infrastructure improvements. The bond will be paid back over the next 30 years, at a 0.1 percent interest rate. Town officials remain confident that they will be able to make bond payments using only money coming into the company through water bills, and that non-rate paying taxpayers will not have to pick up the bill for a system that they don't use. The board also discussed, at their meeting last week, how to create a policy to fairly deal with delinquent payments.
Project Engineer Jason Booth, of Aldrich and Elliott Water Resource Engineers, was on hand to address some of the board's questions. "We're at the point where we're ready to sign some contracts," said board chairman Keith Squires, "Everybody just needs to be on board."
"Just to give you an idea of what we typically do after we open bids," said Booth, "is we put together our bid tabulation, and we basically show our estimate compared to the contractors' estimates, and we make sure all of the bids are in order, and that there weren't any math errors, which sometimes there are, those are not uncommon. We can make all the adjustments as necessary, and from there we work with the apparent low bidder, who in this case was Zalusny Excavating (of Vernon), and we check their banking institution, we contact their bank and make sure that they've got a sufficient amount of funds, that they're able to move cash in and out and oversee a project of this magnitude."
"We've done 10 or 11 contracts with Zalusny, across the southern half of the state," he said, "They're a good contractor, they're a local contractor." He said that some of the references they got back regarding Zalusny were not positive, but that that is not uncommon for a contractor. He said that his company had worked with Zalusny on recent work on Pownal's sewer system, and have a good relationship with them.
"As you are well aware, the bids came in high," said Booth, "Zalusny's base bid was $2.281 million, so what we had to do was step back and take a look at what that means for the total project cost, and in order to make something work here, what can we do to trim the contract or negotiate with Zalusny to adjust any of his unit pricing. He didn't have much to give back on the unit pricing, so we're looking at what areas of the project might not be as high of a priority, that we could trim out. Those areas being Chiselville and 313." He said that would save the town about $463,000 and three weeks in labor and materials from Zalusny, and about $15,000 in engineering and administration from Aldrich and Elliott. The town will retain engineering drawings for those two parts of the project, and can use them later if necessary.
"I think the bottom line, very simple, is, we're good," said Squires, "We had to cut some things, we all know why, and I think we made the right choices there. We're getting the most important pieces done." Board member Cynthia Browning agreed that they should start at the heart of the town and work outward, even though, she joked, her mother was on 313.
The board made a motion to authorize Squires to send a notice of intent to accept Zalusky's bid.
The Arlington Water Company has about 510 direct users, including the Arlington's library, town offices, and schools, with about 40 in the town of Sunderland.
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.