Salem mulls sanitation proposals
By BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
SALEM — Generally, a five-figure differential in bids does not present a reason for delaying the decision on awarding the bid.
That, however, was not the case for the Salem City Council Tuesday night as they tabled action on bids for a five-year city sanitation contact.
Sedcore Inc. of Keosauqua was the low bidder among four companies with an asking of $114,840 over the five-year contract span. Waste Management of Fairfield was next at $128,580; Wemiga bid $133,000 and Lance Sanitation, the current contract holder, was at $134,628.
Wemiga, formerly Whaley Sanitation, also had the sanitation contract at one time.
“Sedore is the cheapest and I don’t have anything against them,” said Councilman Chuck Kramer, “but Lance and Wemiga have a proven track record.”
Councilman Bill Wixom Jr. agreed that more study was needed before awarding the bid. “I would like to do some checking on a couple of these. I would like to stay local if we can.”
Salem resident Judy Feehan told the council that cost should be the top priority. “This is money coming our of our pocket,” she began. “Think hard about this. We need the money, too. There is a $18,000 difference (in bids).”
A Sedcore representative told the council that the firm’s actual cost may be lower. “The bid I gave you was on the high side,” he said. “We also will take all appliances and electronics for free.”
The Sedcore official said the company will also take tires ($3 for car tires and $4-$5 for larger tires). Sedcore recently purchased an 8,500 square-foot facility on Highway 16 that it will use as a recycling center, he added.
Now that a ballpark figure is known for sanitation costs, the council will begin considering an increase in utility fees. Kramer proposed a $2 per month, across-the-board increase, noting that utility rates have not been increased since 1996.
“We’re slipping down instead of going up,” he said, regarding utility costs. “I don’t want to pay more, either, but I don’t think $6 a month is going to break anyone.”
The proposed ordinance will have to pass three readings before adoption. The first reading will be at the November council meeting.
In a final utility matter, the council approved the fiscal 2014-2015 water contract with Hillsboro. Salem supplies Hillsboro with its water supply. Salem currently charges Hillsboro $3.38 per 1,000 gallons, and Bolin recommended raising the fee to $4.22 per 1,000 gallons as of July 1, 2014. The council okayed Bolin’s recommendation.
Council members gave the Southeast Iowa Ridgeblasters Snowmobile Club permission to have a route through Salem but urged the club not to use alleys.
“Going through alleys is just asking for trouble,” Wixom said.
Deputy City Clerk Carolyn Bolin also stated a concern for using alleys. “”The alleys have lift stations. What if things are broken, who is going to pay for them?” she asked.
Council members also agreed to repair the west side of the intersection of Liberty and Main streets. Wixom, who has been working on the project, said a “quick fix” would cost $2,250 for the west side and $3,500 for the east side, whereas permanent repairs would cost between $6,800-$7,500.
“This has been a headache for a long time,” Kramer noted.
“We may want to tackle the west side this year, so we don’t have an ice build-up in the winter,” Wixom said. “It is not something that needs to be done overnight. Fixing it right would be the best way to do it, then we would have it done.”
He suggested fixing the west side before winter and including the project in the fiscal 2015 budget. The council agreed with Wixom’s suggestion.
In final action, the council:
• Received the annual report from the library. Jim Dean, board member, said income and expenses were similar to last year. He noted the library did spend $5,000 for four laptop computers but $4,400 of that total was covered in a grant from the Houglin Foundation.
• Fire Chief Steve Nichting also presented his quarterly report. During the third quarter, Salem Fire and Rescue units responded to 48 calls. Twenty eight of the calls were EMS calls. The fire department responded to seven incidents.
• Bolin told the council that it ended fiscal 2013 (as of July 1, 2013) with $223,195 cash on hand.
Council members will meet again in regular session Wednesday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. The council meeting was moved to Wednesday because of the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 5.