VSALEXIQUE — A last-minute recommendation from state officials will result in slight changes and potentially reduce the construction cost of the City’s New River Improvement Project RFP.
The recommendation from the California Department of Water Resources called for a change in the type of material to be used for the estimated $32 million project.
The state’s request was submitted to the city hours before City Council is expected to potentially approve the project being tendered at a special meeting on Wednesday, August 10.
The board ultimately voted unanimously to approve the tender, pending recommended changes.
“It’s not really big changes, just materials,” City Manager Esperanza Colio Warren said Thursday, Aug. 11.
The RFP for the project will now be resubmitted to the City’s Contract Engineer to make the recommended changes. The bid opening date was tentatively scheduled for September 6, according to the resolution’s backup documents.
The tender also differs from the one the city previously opened for auction. The current proposal divides the construction of the project into two phases, whereas construction under the old tender was to be undertaken in a single phase.
The splitting of the New River Improvement Project into two separate phases was prompted by a recommendation from Colio Warren at the July 28 special council meeting.
During that meeting, the council approved his request to reject the only $41.7 million bid the city had received because it exceeded the $23.7 million currently available for the project.
While Colio Warren then clarified that additional funds for the construction should be provided by the state, she further suggested breaking the construction project into different components.
Phase 1 of the project will install a trash screen to clear debris from the river as it enters the United States from Mexico, as well as install a pumping system that will divert water from the river to the city’s sewage treatment plant, where it will be cleaned. and returned to the river basin to produce a “sweet” stream.
Phase 2 will install a 6-foot diversion pipe to span the waterway between the Second Street Bridge and where the river meets the All-American Canal, along with erosion control measures at the end of the branch pipe, indicates the tender document.
Before the RFP was approved, council member Camilo Garcia asked for assurances that the project, when completed, would have the funds to sustain it.
“It would be a disservice to build it and not be able to maintain it,” Garcia said.
City Manager Colio Warren explained that in 2017 the city, county and Imperial Irrigation District finalized a memorandum of understanding that required each entity to contribute $50,000 per year for 20 years to maintain the project, once operational.
The city originally received $28 million for the New River project, consisting of $18 million from the state’s 2020-2021 general fund and $10 million from the 2018 Proposition 68 water bond co- written by Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella.
Annual budget approved, again
In an effort to eliminate any confusion surrounding the status of the City’s 2022-2023 fiscal year budget, City Council approved a finalized version at its special meeting.
Prior to its action on Wednesday, council had approved a series of resolutions during two separate meetings in June and July that allowed the city to spend money while council considered amendments to the proposed budget.
Still, there appeared to be some confusion over whether a continuing resolution council approved on June 30 essentially approved the proposed budget, which it did, City Manager Colio Warren said.
So, to make things clearer, the unanimously approved resolution on Wednesday reaffirmed that prior approval and allowed for some updates to be included.
One of the approximately $162 million budget updates for fiscal year 2022-23 that generated the most discussion at the meeting was the postponement of a capital fund project for the $85,000 water.
This project included the transition to a different chlorination system at the city’s wastewater treatment plant.
Currently, the plant’s chlorination system runs on gas instead of liquid, which has presented a concern for facility personnel, Colio Warren said.
But before any changes are made to the chlorination system, Colio Warren told council the city should first apply for state grant funds that would allow for an engineering assessment of the plant’s overall operations. Such an assessment would identify any operational problems and recommend potential solutions.
“I don’t think I should make a decision without an engineer looking at the project,” she told the council.
Board member Garcia questioned the need to modify the water treatment plant system, which on a recent visit had left him with the impression that its relatively recent upgrades were enough to keep it going.
He also wondered if delayed system changes would result in long-term cost savings.
Still, Garcia said he also favors having an expert assess the plant’s operations to determine if any changes are needed.
“I would like to make a decision based on the expertise of someone who knows,” Garcia said.
Council member Rosie Arreola Fernandez said she remembered previous discussions about changing the plant’s chlorination system and preferred that the city didn’t have to go to such an expense for a change if not. was not entirely necessary.
“If it works and we don’t have to change it, I don’t see why we have to go to the expense,” she said.
Other revisions that were made to the city’s 2022-23 fiscal year budget at the request of council members included the reclassification of a $210,000 allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act for the purchase of several police vehicles as an expense from the emergency response fund.
Some $60,000 was allocated for a demolition project on Cesar Chavez Boulevard, while a total of $100,000 in Measure H funds was allocated for roof improvements to the Camarena Memorial Library, the community center lighting and recreational programs.
Additionally, the proposed expenditure of $195,000 for the purchase of seven vehicles has been postponed to consider the possible option of purchasing electric vehicles, according to the budget resolution’s backup documents.
Split Council Approves Participation in Park Conference
A heated discussion that began two weeks ago about whether it was economically prudent to send two city officials to a national parks and recreation conference in Phoenix in September continued at special board meeting.
And though a divided council voted 3-2 on July 28 to send council member Gloria Romo and a city employee to the 2022 National Recreation and Parks Association conference, the matter is back. to the council for a second vote after it was determined that the court-staffed city was unable to make any of its employees available for the Sept. 19-23 conference.
Thus, a resolution was presented to Council recommending the presence of a member of the Parks, Recreation, Beautification and Services for Seniors Commission in place of a City employee.
As before, council members Garcia and Fernandez objected to the proposed spending, saying it was unclear how the city would benefit from his presence. They also argued that the city could save money if Romo and the commissioner attended virtually.
In the end, the council voted 3-2 in favor of sending the two city representatives, with Mayor Javier Moreno, Pro Tem Mayor Raul Ureña, and Romo in favor of the resolution.