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Low water tower bids paint better fiscal picture

By Lori Lindner
North Liberty Leader
NORTH LIBERTY– Bids on a city painting project have come in significantly lower than expected.
At their July 23 meeting, the North Liberty City Council approved a bid of $186,250 from Central Tank Coatings of Elgin, to repaint one of the city’s two water towers. The project was originally estimated to cost over $300,000.
The tower located on 240th Street, built in 1995, has been spot-painted over the years as rust spots and weld marks appear as part of normal wear and aging. Inspected every two years, it was recommended for a complete new paint job order to maintain its structural integrity on the outside and protect the water stored inside. Repainting a water tower is an expensive undertaking, so the city decided to break the job into two phases. The inside of the 400,000-gallon tower was repainted two years ago, and the exterior improvements were slated for this fiscal year. Central Tank Coatings is the firm that has been inspecting and making improvements on the towers thus far, so their personnel are familiar with the work that has already been done, noted city engineer Kevin Trom.
Trom said it was hard to say why the bids were so much lower than the engineer’s original estimate; however, the lowest two bids were within $1,420 of each other, with the second lowest bid of $187,670 coming from Caldwell Tanks of Kentucky.
“I think they were just very conservative in their (initial) estimate,” Trom told the council. “I know Greg (Metternich, North Liberty Water Superintendent) also called a firm in the Quad Cities to check Central Tank’s numbers, and they seemed reasonable.”
The proximity of the two low bids was also reassuring to council member Chris Hoffman.
“If they were an outlier, I’d be concerned, but the second bidder was so close,” said Hoffman.
Council member Coleen Chipman said she was pleased that the winning firm was within the state.
“The other three companies were all out of state,” she noted. “That also makes (the Central Tank bid) pretty attractive.”
Finally, council member Gerry Kuhl said the cost savings would translate to taxpayers as well. “This should help keep water rates down,” said Kuhl.
The council unanimously approved the bid from Central Tank. Weather permitting, the repainting project is expected to be completed by October.