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Perham City Council accepts bids for upcoming projects

The Perham City Council awarded bids for two upcoming street projects at a special meeting held last Wednesday night.

Eight bids were received for the Third Street NW/Lake Avenue project, and Engineer Jade Berube said that all bids came in well under his original cost estimate.

Lloyd Felt Plumbing & Heating out of Detroit Lakes came in as the lowest bidder. Original estimates for the cost had been near $735,000, but Felt's estimate came in around $577,00, Berube said.

"The city has had issues with their timelines in the past," Berube said, referring to previous projects awarded to Felt Plumbing by Perham. "But I talked with Lloyd and he's told me he has no other projects scheduled at this time."

Councilman Fred Lehmkuhl asked if this project could be affected by the state government shutdown. Berube said it wouldn't be, because it's being funded by bonds and not state money, and all necessary permits are already in order.

Berube said the contract for the project stipulates penalties for not finishing construction on time. Everything needs to be finished by September 16, he said, or penalties could be as high as $1,000 a day.

Fifth Avenue SE project

The bid for the Fifth Avenue SE project, which will begin in August or September, was awarded to J & J Excavating out of Staples, Minn.

According to Berube, J & J Excavating's bid was about $100,000 less than the expected cost of the project.

Lehmkuhl noted that J & J's bid came in considerably lower than bids from other companies, and asked Berube why that might be.

Berube said that he noticed the same thing, as did the owner of J & J.

"Because it's a main line storm sewer, there's a lot of bypass pumping involved, and he feels that he could do that more cheaply," Berube said.

Because the project involves sewer lines than run underneath the East Otter Tail County Fairgrounds, construction will begin following the completion of this year's fair.

Performance measure

Also at the special meeting, the council voted to enter into a performance-measuring program that would create a list of 10 standards that citizens could use to rate the city.

The program was put forward by the Council on Local Results and Innovation created by the Minnesota Legislature, and gives cities incentives to participate. For example, for entering into performance measurement, cities could receive an extra 14 cents per capita in Local Government Aid and be exempt from levy limits.

"Overall, the consensus is that cities will adopt this," City Manager Kelcey Klemm said. "It's hard to turn away free money."

The new measure fits well with Perham's goals, Klemm said, because of how the city has been trying to be more open and proactive in soliciting public comments.

"It's something brand new," he said. "The effectiveness of it we'll find out."

Klemm pointed to the online survey service SurveyMonkey as an example of how the city might fulfill the requirements of the program, asking citizens to rate the city on aspects such as snow removal, the police department and much more.

"This certainly sounds like an opportunity for us to be proactive," councilman Jim Johnson said.

The next regular Perham City Council meeting is scheduled for Monday, July 11 at 5:15 p.m.