Maintenance contract would make it easier to budget for water projects
Village of Fredonia officials are interested in entering into a water tower maintenance program with a private contractor that would make a big-ticket expense for the water utility more predictable.
A number of local communities have recently entered into similar maintenance agreements for their water towers.
According to a payment plan proposed by Dixon Engineering, a Michigan firm that specializes in the maintenance of municipal water towers, the care of the village’s tower would be covered by a five-year contract at an annual cost of $60,144.
The work would include painting and cleaning the interior and exterior of the 30,000-gallon tower, maintenance measures that need to be done on an ongoing basis.
Dixon Project Manager Jim Orr said the firm would prepare all engineering work and hire approved subcontractors to perform needed maintenance on the tower.
Orr said a full engineering study would be prepared on the village’s water tower once it gets the green light from the village. That study is expected to cost $10,000, but he said the village would not be expected to pay that cost.
Even before the study is complete, Orr said, he knows the company will recommend installing a mixer system that blends water stored in the tower.
“If we have another winter like last year, the system will keep the water liquid rather than freezing,” Orr said.
Another service the firm would provide, he said, is standardizing how antenna space is rented to cellular telephone providers.
Three carriers currently have antennas on top of the water tower, and Orr said he is confident he could negotiate better deals for the village.
Money received from cellular companies for antenna space would continue to go to the village, he said.
Yet another recommendation from the company is that when the tower is repainted, it should be in a darker color that is less prone to show the accumulated mold and mildew that naturally grows on the underside of the globe.
“You are still going to have some kind of growth, but it is going to be less obvious,” Orr said.
Village officials were approached last year by a competing company last year, Utility Services Co., that offered to do similar maintenance work at a cost of $98,000 a year for the first three years of the contract, followed by a $28,000 annual charge.
After the first five years, the Dixon plan calls for an annual charge of $29,000 for the next eight years.
In 2028, when another paint job would be required, the proposed charge would increase to $74,000 for three years.
“Once you pay off the initial painting, you can terminate the contract or extend it for 25 years,” Orr said.
The cost for the service would be charged to water utility customers rather than placed on the village tax rolls.
Public Works Director Roger Strohm supported the Dixon plan because of the expertise the firm would offer the village.
“A lot of this is knowledge I don’t have. I like the idea of having someone available who knows exactly what is going on at the water tower,” Strohm said.
Officials noted that the contract could be expanded to include the construction of a future water tower if the village sees a need.
Trustees gave conceptual approval to the maintenance plan, with the company expected to submit a final plan by Sept. 1.