Helper proceeds with pool project
The Helper City Council agreed last Thursday to move forward with the proposed construction of a city pool in the community.
The council decided last month to move forward with construction and accept funding from the Utah Permanent Community Impact Board.
Councilmembers voted to advertise for a bonding agency to carry the bond for construction.
In addition, the council also agreed to advertise for a project manager that would help oversee the completion of the proposed facility.
Helper Mayor Joe Bonacci explained that, after discussing the bonding process with Carbon County Commissioner Bill Krompel, he was of the opinion that the city could save tens of thousands of dollars by advertising for a bonding agent.
Relating to the project manager, the council agreed that, by hiring someone to oversee the pool project, the city could avoid some of the costs that could result from lack of expertise.
The council felt that a project manager could do a better job and expedite the construction process.
Helper resident Dean Armstrong voiced his opinion that the council should also consider advertising for a packaged bid that would include design and construction by one team.
Armstrong compared that process to the typical design, bid, build process.
The Helper resident pointed out that, if the officials were to choose to take his suggestion, the city may end up with a better product in shorter time.
According to Armstrong, that is because the city would have architects, engineers and contractors working together throughout the entire project.
For instance, he said, some architects designs are flawed.
Under the standard process, the contractor may discover the flaw late into the construction process.
The contractor then has to go back to the architect, who redesigns the facility.
An engineer would then have to sign off on the change before the contractor can proceed.
Under Armstrong's suggestion, the contractor would be in place during the design phase.
The contractor and engineer can modify the design earlier.
In addition, once preliminary designs are drafted, a contractor could begin work on certain portions before the rest of the facility is completed. Along the way, the construction manager would ensure that the architectural designs meet all the applicable standards.
Armstrong also pointed out that if all parties involved were on board from the start of the project, the city can shift some of the risks associated with it to the team. A contractor can't blame the architect's plans as easily. And an architect can't as readily claim that the plans were correct, but weren't built correctly.
Such a bid would have two parts, Armstrong explained. The first part would be a job history and qualifications of the design team. The second would be the cost and construction bid that would have a dollar amount attached to it.
The city could then choose the bid that had a combination of best price, experience and qualifications.
However, as City Attorney Gene Strate pointed out, the process suggested by Armstrong may not meet the guidelines set by the CIB. With that question left unanswered, various members of the council agreed that if the city could legally follow the route suggested by Armstrong, that would be in the city's best interest.
Bonacci instructed Strate to determine the legality of Armstrong's suggestion. The council will make a motion regarding the bidding for design and construction at a later date.
In an unrelated matter, the council made a step that could help city employees get appropriate raises.
"We need a solution to get employees a raise," said councilmember Robert Welch.
"There's no question about it," added councilmember Bob Farrell. Farrell suggested that one possible solution may come through services offered by Wasatch Compensation.
Wasatch Compensation conducts annual surveys of salaries, benefits, employee policies and turnover trends of various employers, mostly along the Wasatch Front. That data is then offered to human resource departments as a resource for benchmarking.
"I don't think there's anyone here that thinks the employees are justly compensated," said the mayor as he entertained a motion on the matter.
The council agreed to purchase access to Wasatch Compensation's data at a cost of $75 annually.
In the area of councilmemebr reports, Robert Welch reported a significant development relating to Helper's water resources. The Boy Scouts of America own a portion of lower Fish Creek, one of Helper's water sheds.
Welch explained that the BSA had expressed the desire to use the land where Helper's water come from. Welch pointed out that since the area is a water supply, the scouts should not be using the facility at all. He said that he had been offered 20 acres which the BSA owns at a price of $400 per acre.
"To avoid further litigation, I thought It would be best to purchase the area," said Welch. He added that he thought the city could cover the $8,000 purchase under its current budget restraints.
Welch said the would research the matter in more detail and bring it to a vote at the next council meeting.
Bonacci reported on the status of the Rio Theater. He said the city has exhausted its budget for construction. Construction that has been completed includes the extension of the stage, basic lighting, the floor has been sealed twice and the mayor said the facility has a "Cadillac sound system."
The basement has been roughly plumbed for dressing rooms, but the dressing rooms are not completed. In addition, the theater will need seats before it can be used.
The Rio Theater was paid for in part by a $107,000 Community Development Block Grant. That grant carried the stipulation that the city hire three full time employees at the theater. The theater was originally funded as an economic development to offer jobs to low income employees.
The city determined at its march 17 meeting that it would not be able to hire the employees as required and has discussed the possibility of returning the grant money.
The mayor said he had talked to the administrators of the grant regarding the city's inability to hire the employees.
"I said repossess the building and take it from us," said the mayor. He said that the city would be able to keep the facility but that there would be some consequences to not hiring the three eomployees.
Bonacci reported that if the city did not hire the three employees, the grant would revolve to a loan. The loan would have zero percent interest, but would increase the city's total debt. The mayor did not state what the payments on the loan would be or how long it would take to repay it.