County holds line on placement of culverts
If you don’t follow the rules, you don’t get funding.
That was the message Tuesday morning from the Taylor County Highway Committee in the town of Deer Creek over a misplaced pair of culverts on Stetson Avenue.
According to highway commissioner Ben Stanfley, town officials had contacted the county earlier this year to replace three squashed 72 inch pipes with two No. 90 pipes. The highway department did the work to get the permits and order the culverts and right before the county was set to install them, the town decided to go with a private contractor they felt would be cheaper than what the county would charge for the work. The town had also sought funding for the work through the county’s bridge aid program where the town and county split the cost of the project.
Stanfley said the issue is that in installing the new culverts, the contractor placed the culverts too far apart in the road to meet the specifications to qualify for the state bridge aid program in the future. Stanfley expressed concern that with state wetland and waterway rules continuing to tighten, that at some point in the future the state will require a full bridge to be built in that area rather than allowing culverts. Under the state bridge aid program, the state would pick up 80% of the bridge cost with the county and town splitting the remaining 20%. However, with the current placement of the culverts the area would not qualify for the state program and funding greatly increasing local expense.
Stanfley said the county sent the message out last fall that in order to receive county bridge aid reimbursement, the culverts would have to be installed correctly.
Stanfley and committee chairman Scott Mildbrand told committee members they had been contacted by both the contractor and members of the town board wanting the county to sign off on the project as done.
Stanfley said the estimated cost of the project was about $30,000 with pipes alone coming in at $23,000. Mildbrand said the estimate for moving the culvert closer to its pair would cost between $3,500 and $4,500.
Committee member Ray Soper said the issue is if the county should reimburse for an incorrectly placed culvert. “Who did it wrong or why is not the point,” he said.
While accepting that the culverts as installed will probably handle the water flow just fine, Soper said there is a principle of having rules in place and needing to enforce them. Otherwise he said, “The next town is going to try to stiff you over in some way and it is pretty hard to start toeing the line then.”
Committee member Earl Hinkel said he did not think the county should reimburse the town for the project until it is corrected. “It sounds mean, but rules are rules,” he said.
“We don’t want to be held accountable for something they did wrong,” said committee member Jim Gebauer.
County board chairman Jim Metz said the committee’s action puts the ball into the town’s court. “It is up to them, they have to decide if it is worth the money,” he said.
Committee members voted to deny the bridge aid until the culvert is put in properly and at that time will pay the county portion of the original amount of the project, without including the additional cost of the repair work.
After the vote, committee member Rod Adams noted there should be a time frame for when it would have to be done. Committee members agreed and voted to rescind their action and then passed a new motion including a one year time limit for the town to have the work done and submit for the reimbursement.
Rib Lake shop
Plans for the proposed Rib Lake highway shop are coming together with committee members approving the design options for buildings for salt storage and for salt and sand storage.
The county has been working for about two years to build a new highway shop complex in Rib Lake. The existing shop on CTH D near Great Northern Cabinetry has outlived its usefulness and is too small to meet current and future needs. The county last year purchased a parcel for the construction of a new shop complex.
At Tuesday’s meeting, committee members were asked to weigh in on the salt and salt/sand storage structure including deciding if they wanted the county to attempt to dismantle and reuse the existing 35-yearold sand storage structure.
Stanfley had worked with a construction firm to put together some options for building specifications to bring to the committee. The estimated construction cost of 53 foot by 64 foot structure with 1,150 tons of salt storage capacity is about $119,000. He emphasized that the buildings would need to be put out for bid and this was just an estimated price.
He said the new structures would likely have 50 years of useable life and questioned if it was worth a few thousand dollars in cost savings to try to disassemble and reuse the older structure.
“You are not saving much,” Gebauer said.
“To rebuild a 35-year-old building doesn’t make sense,” Soper said.
Committee members unanimously approved going along with the design specifications for the two matching buildings. The salt storage building being built for the state will also have a front end wall with a 14 foot by 14 foot framed opening which is estimated to add about $11,500 in cost. The county structure which will be used to store the salt and sand mixture used on county roads won’t have the enclosed entrance but will be open like the existing structure is.
With a decision on the salt and sand building size and design, the overall project is nearing the point at which it will be ready to go to bid. Another piece of it was the wetland delineation of the property, which Stanfley said could result in tweaking the layout of the building and access road to avoid those areas. He said he would like to go out on bid for the project in January.
In other business, committee members approved replacing two patrolman positions in the highway department. The vacancies are due to retirements. Stanfley said his goal would be to advertise for the positions and then go through the interview process, but not have the new staff in place until after January 1.