Council asked to consider ‘cost of service’ billing for wastewater

Chris Davies

The Lewiston City Council touched on several infrastructure projects at Monday’s regular meeting, from approving a contract for the last batch of off-site work around the Tri-partnership site on Warner Avenue to buying the right of way in front of the former Kmart building for a road project next year.

Councilors first got an update on initial work on a $34 million project to upgrade the city’s wastewater treatment plant in North Lewiston from Public Works Director Chris Davies. Crews from Williams Brother Construction LLC of Spokane mobilized in November and have so far focused on demolition and excavation, but have installed some new equipment, like presses, that remove excess water from sewer sludge.

The project has progressed smoothly so far, with no change orders or claims submitted by the contractor, Davies said.

The council also voted 6-0-1 (Councilor Cari Miller was absent) to accept a dedication of right of way from the McCann Family Limited Partnership for a 2021 project to improve the intersection of 19th Avenue and 21st Street. The city will pay $14,123 for the narrow strip of land along the eastern edge of 21st Street north of the intersection to allow for items like sidewalk and pedestrian improvements included in the project.

Overall, the government cost of the project is expected to be about $690,000, with federal transportation dollars covering $640,000 and city dollars covering $50,000. The Nez Perce Terrace Planned Unit Development will provide $95,000. The work will reconfigure and widen the intersection to provide dual northbound left turn lanes on 21st Street, a dedicated left turn lane for eastbound traffic on 19th Avenue, updates to traffic signals and reconstructed pedestrian ramps.

Councilors unanimously approved an agreement with the Idaho Transportation Department for the project’s funding.

On the Tri-partnership site that includes the city’s Community Park, the new Lewiston High School and the Lewis-Clark State College Schweitzer Career and Technical Education building, the council unanimously approved the bid of M.L. Albright and Sons of $828,392 for work on the city streets around the property.

The city, school district and the college will share the bulk of that cost, with the city share at $576,562.

The Lewiston School Board also approved the contract at its Monday night meeting. The district’s share of the project cost is $326,465.

The Albright bid came in a whopping 40 percent under an engineer’s estimate, according to the city. Work includes widening Warner Avenue between 10th and 13th streets; widening 10th Street between Park and Stewart avenues; improvements to the intersection of Warner Avenue and 10th Street; and pedestrian crossings at four other intersections.

In other business, the council approved a name change for its Utility Circuit Breaker Program to the Utility Assistance Program. The city instituted the program to help low-income residents after it raised water and wastewater rates by 40 percent in 2018 to pay for the bonds necessary to rebuild the wastewater and water treatment plants. City Manager Alan Nygaard explained that the name of the program was causing some confusion among customers who believed it was the same program as the state circuit breaker property tax reduction program administered by Nez Perce County.

Councilors also heard a presentation on the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census from Census Bureau Partnership Specialist Juanita Risch, who urged the council to help ensure that all Lewiston residents are counted by helping spread information and providing locations like the library for people to complete the census.

Risch said the bureau estimated that 31,000 Idahoans were not counted in the 2010 census, making the state miss out on about $67 million in federal funding over the last decade.

The Tribune’s Justyna Tomtas contributed to this report. Mills may be contacted at jmills@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2266.

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