The never ending saga on whether or not to move forward with the Raye Ave project in Oakley will continue through November after the Oakley City Council delayed its vote to move forward with a fix that will prevent flooding and upgrading of the road.
This is a project that has been on the City’s CIP list for nearly a decade due to funding. Last year, that problem was solved as Jim Frazier (at that time still a councilman) went and fought for $750,000 in funding after being told the project cost—it turns out, staff estimates were off and there is a funding problem with a shortfall of $334,826.68.
The council was going to take one of five options:
- Option 1, Make up the Shortfall Using Local Funds-
- Option 2, Reject the Bids without Prejudice and Without Modifying the Plans and Re-Bid the Project at a Later Date-
- Option 3, Work with the Contractor and Designer to Identify Potential Cost Saving Measures and Re-Bid the Project at a Later Date-
- Option 4, Identify Additional Funding Sources to Make Up the Projected Shortfall-
- Option 5, Reject all Bids, Reallocate Funds for Their Original Purpose, and Place CIP #48 On-Hold Until an Adequate Alternate Funding Source is Identified-
Instead, they chose an option not on the list… delay!
The city does have a slim defense as this is a very unusual circumstance regarding the infrastructure of the project as typically, the funding for these types of projects coming from developers who fund new construction to prevent flooding. Since these homes were built in the 1960s, they were under county control. The county did not require that type of infrastructure ahead of time—Oakley is now deciding on whether to go back and fix a street.
Having said that, the reason given to delay is poor. They have known about the project for a decade while they received the funding last year. Why would they wait until the last week or so to contact Ironhouse?
According to the staff report, they claim project costs have increased 20-30% due to the economy improving and that contractors are no longer coming in under the engineers estimate to win work.
Fast forward to this past Tuesday’s meeting and you had Mayor Kevin Romick who moved immediately to delay the project discussion until November in order to discuss it further with Ironhouse Sanitary District.
Here is how the delay went down:
Mayor Kevin Romick pulled Item 3.10 and moved to November due to Ironhouse Sanitary District discussions—suggested they continue this to November.
Randy Pope asked if this would cause any complications with the bid.
City Manager Bryan Montgomery stated he did not think it would.
“Perhaps a couple of weeks wouldn’t matter. We are not sure how quickly ISD would respond to us but the information today was encouraging that they would consider participating to make this project happen,” said Montgomery.
Burgis countered the Mayor’s timeline and asked if the spirit of this project was for blood control.
Montgomery responded the assault is in poor shape and drainage is nil.
“My concern is getting the project done as quickly as possible. Delaying it until November, is that necessary to go that far?” asked Burgis.
“We are waiting on a reply from Ironhouse, so when they have their meeting is when they will discuss it and come back to us on how involved they would be in the project,” said Romick.
Bryan Montgomery suggested that the council had many options to consider.
“It would likely mean construction in the spring waiting until that point. The other option would be award without the sewer line and tell them to hurry it and step up. Or just award and hope they step forward with money. There are many options. The staff report is very well written and has maybe 5 options and the fact that ISD is willing to participate ins some of these discussions at this point is promising but it would delay the project at this point. It doesn’t mean it wont be done,” said Montgomery.
Romick made a motion to wait until Nov… Randy Pope immediately second it before any other comments or discussion could occur.
So what we have here is a City who has said one thing, now they are putting the burden on whether or not to move forward with the project on Ironhouse Sanitary District which is silly. The City goofed and compound that with a mayor who refuses to make a tough choice decides to pass the burden on down the line to a special district.
Furthermore, according to the staff report, Ironhouse is not even a partner in the project meaning the discussion around Ironhouse during the meeting highlights how incomplete the staff report really was–no where did they say during the discussion how much Ironhouse would impact the project cost or how much their portion contributes.
Does it make sense to work together, absolutely, but not at the expense of a project delay until spring and forcing residents to put up with flooding for another winter.
Also, by delaying until spring, there is no guarantee the project cost remains the same. One can argue that since the economy is improving and cost was up 20-30% in a years time, who is to say the cost won’t go up another 10-20% by spring?
It’s pretty clear cut, move forward with the project and Ironhouse can do the responsible thing for ratepayers and come along for the ride. Its very easy to hold an emergency meeting to move forward which could occur in less than a weeks time–not three months as claimed by Oakley Mayor Kevin Romick.
Going a step further, Councilman Doug Hardcastle was an Ironhouse Director for over a decade yet he stood silent on the issue Tuesday about what Ironhouse would and wouldn’t consider in approving a project. Hardcastle has the most knowledge on a project such as this from an Ironhouse perspective and stood silent. At worst, he could have educated the public and mayor Romick on pros and cons.
For whatever reason, the Oakley City Council is trigger shy about this project.
The sad part is residents of Raye Avenue will pay for the lack of urgency by a council who appears to be more interested in saving Ironhouse Sanitary District money than taking care of residents who put the council in office.
By Michael Burkholderburk@eastcountytoday.net