2017-06-14 / Front Page

Feds to cover sewer cost shortfall

Construction could start this year
810-452-2689 • elevine@mihomepaper.com

WORTH TWP. — Township officials think they can still break ground on the long-awaited sewer project this year.

Township Supervisor Phil Essenmacher told the Sanilac County Board of Public Works last week that the project has been approved by Rural Development, however funding to cover the shortfall in construction costs is not available at this time.

“National office approved, but doesn’t currently have the funds,” said Essenmacher, referring to Rural Development, the federal agency under the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Based upon that update, the board adopted a resolution to tentatively award construction bids to contractors pending a commitment from Rural Development of increased grants and or loans and approval of the increased costs by the township board.

Under the resolution, the bids that were to expire July 15 are extended until Oct. 16.

With those bids, the cost of the sewage disposal system in the area bordered by Galbraith Line on the south, M-25 on the west, Chippewa Road on the north and Lake Huron on the east, has mushroomed from the original estimate of $23,795,000 to $41,791,000.

Reasons for the higher bids include county and state construction and design requirements that added millions of dollars to the project.

According to Essenmacher, if the township can get a couple months of construction under its belt before winter closes in, and work resumes in the spring, the project should be completed by the court-ordered deadline.

“Even if we get two or three months this year, we can hit the September 2018 deadline,” Essenmacher stated.

He said the project is expected to take nine months to complete, so if work progresses this winter construction could wrap up with “two months to spare.”

Essenmacher said the per parcel fee that will be assessed to pay for the project won’t be known until the township learns how much of the shortfall will be covered by grants and how much by loans from Rural Development. However, he said the fee could range from $15,000 to $17,000 per parcel.

The municipal sewer project has been mandated by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for more than a decade to stop sewage flow into Lake Huron from private septic systems.

Construction was supposed to begin April 1 under a court order, but was put on hold when the bids came in in February almost doubling the cost of the project and sending the township back to Rural Development in search of more money.

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