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County awards paving contract

The award of a paving contract for the county’s summer paving project on Aspenglow and Handicap avenues, and Carlee Place, at Tuesday’s Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners meeting turned into a discussion of whether to keep work local versus the responsibility of looking after taxpayer money.

The contract decision was twofold — first, to decide whether or not to apply the 2-percent local preference to a bid by Stroehecker Asphalt and Paving and, second, to award the project contract. The 2-percent local preference is an option available to the commissioners in which they can award a bid to a local contractor if that bid is within 2 percent of the apparent low bid for a project.

The staff recommendation, presented by Public Works Director Ken Feyen, was to award the contract to the apparent low bidder, Elam Construction, with a bid of $1,756,446.89 including the add-alternate of Carlee Place.

Stroehecker bid $1,783,803.41, while Four Corners Materials bid $1,814,733.40.

The project was budgeted at $2.4 million and, minus the approximate $170,000 spent on design, approximately $2.23 million is left for construction, Feyen said.

With that, the commissioners debated applying the 2-percent local preference to Stroehecker’s bid.

“Last year, I know the project went really well and I know there was a significant savings that was passed back to the county,” Commissioner John Ranson said.

Elam completed last year’s paving project of over two miles of Park, Cloud Cap and Holiday avenues, finishing about $310,000 under budget and ahead of schedule.

“We talk the talk, and, you know, I just want us to walk the walk,” Commissioner Clifford Lucero said, stating that he felt the right thing to do was to apply the local preference. “I know there’s a lot of people out there in the community that aren’t working right now. I see them every day — they’re having to leave town; they’re pulling their kids out of school. There’s just no jobs here.”

While admitting the paving project would only provide jobs for a few months, Lucero continued, “To me, it’s important to do the right thing and, this time around, I think the right thing is using a local contractor ... these are our friends and these are our neighbors out there that aren’t working, and that breaks my heart.”

With that, Ranson made a motion to apply the local preference. He did so in order to bring the issue to a vote, since Lucero, as chairman, cannot make a motion.

Local residents Bob Hart and Michael Whiting agreed with Lucero, noting that the local preference should be applied and the project kept local.

Kip Stroehecker, of Stroehecker Asphalt, noted that all but two of his employees are from Archuleta County and he, too, thought the local preference should be applied.

Lou Poma, representing Elam, said the commissioners should choose the experience of Elam and added that the workers would need lodging, which would also help the local economy.

Following a short break in the meeting, Ranson said he was “leaning on going against” the motion, noting that one of his main responsibilities is to look after taxpayer money, and that local companies had garnered other contracts with the county.

In the end, Lucero voted in favor of applying the preference and Ranson voted against. With only the two commissioners present, the preference was not applied.

The second portion of the agenda item was to award the contract, which, without the local preference in place, went to Elam, the apparent low bidder.

Feyen said in an interview that actual construction would likely start the second or third week of June and, weather permitting, would be done the first part of October.

In other business at the meeting:

• The commissioners heard a report from Feyen concerning the signs on Cascade Avenue that banned thru truck traffic until the signs were taken down in 2009. Residents along the road requested that the county put the signs back up.

In his report, Feyen said that, from an engineering standpoint, the road did not meet national criteria for a sign to be put up limiting large truck traffic. He also noted that putting up signs would simply shift the burden to other roadways.

One resident of the area told the commissioners that, although the roads are technically able to handle the trucks, she was concerned about the dust, safety and degradation of the road, adding that the sign had been in place for 18 years and hadn’t appeared to put a hardship on other roads and neighborhoods.

Pierre Mion voiced that it had been a condition of the easement to have no thru trucks and that the signs had been ignored and calls had been ignored by the sheriff’s department.

A few minutes later in the meeting, County Administrator Greg Schulte noted that, while the signs had been taken down, no record of conveyance determining the sign’s role in the easement was found. Later he added that the signs were legally unenforceable.

Detective Rich Valdez, representing the sheriff’s department, said the department had no objections to the signs, however, in order to allow enforcement, the signs needed to specify what trucks were not allowed and that such a choice would set a precedent.

Another area resident voiced that slowing down the vehicles would be an acceptable outcome.

Lucero said the county would look further into the situation.

• Additional investment firms were approved, to be used by Treasurer Betty Diller to invest county funds with a greater return.

•?The board approved an amendment to the Colorado Department of Transportation Aviation Grant, extending the grant, which was awarded for the fiscal year of 2007, until June 30, 2011. The extension will facilitate the completion of the North Ramp Rehabilitation project at the airport this year.

• The commissioners approved two invitations to bid for the Road and Bridge Department to purchase a truck and accessories. The accessories include a dump box, a snow blade with a wing, a v-box spreader, and a water tank.

The truck and replacements would replace a 27-year-old dump truck, said Road and Bridge Superintendent Dave Guilliams.

The combination of the truck and accessories is expected to be around $246,000, with the additional components being about $136,000 of the $246,000, Guilliams said.

By using the one truck with the accessory components, the county will save about $31,000 in the budget and the truck will be usable 12 months of the year, Guilliams said.

• The county agreed to waive $1,000 in dump fees for the town as part of the town’s cleanup endeavor.

In the decision, Lucero said he originally intended to say “no” due to the solid waste fund’s negative status, but said that county residents do contribute to the amount of trash the town hauls.

Last year, $11,000 was spent in dump fees and the total was split between the town and county.

Hart encouraged the BoCC to think outside of the box, perhaps making a donation from another fund to the town to preserve needed money in the solid waste fund.

Claudia Smith noted that Aspen Springs residents, as part of their subdivision organization, donated funds to help other subdivision residents with landfill fees.

The next regular BoCC meeting is scheduled for June 3 at 1:30 p.m.

randi@pagosasun.com