Road project price increases addressed in Jenkins

Application to Minnesota Rural Waters bond could result in savings for city

Jenkins city hall. Echo Journal file photo

JENKINS — The Jenkins City Council debated bid details to reconstruct roads in two separate projects: Laura Rose Circle and Summer Avenue; and Shanty Court and Brown Boulevard.

The city received four bids, including one that was incomplete.

Widseth engineering firm in Baxter recommended Northern Paving, Inc., which submitted the low bid of $248,025.

Mayor Charles Hoffman grilled Alex Bitter, with Widseth, over changes in the price from the time of the feasibility study to the design stage during the council’s regular meeting Monday, March 13.

Of particular interest was the difference in the amount of asphalt needed for Shanty Court and Brown Boulevard.


"There is a difference of 165 tons," Hoffman said. "We had 785 tons on the bid and 620 in the feasibility study. The issue I'm making is, when we present the feasibility study to our public and to our council, we're moving these along based on a somewhat accurate depiction of quantity in the feasibility study and this is a 26% increase of one of the highest cost items."

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Bitter said the change in volume is likely explained by a difference in measurement, such as the difference in the size of the cul de sac at the end of one project having either a 20-foot mat or an 18-foot mat.

Bitter said those numbers often change from the feasibility stage when numbers are more estimates based on projects of similar size, versus the design stage when greater detail and more specific information becomes available.

New council member Roman Siltman had questions about salvaging 911 home number signs. The feasibility study identified only nine signs, whereas the bid says 20.

"That’s $1,000 difference between 10 and 20 signs," Siltman said.

Siltman said he assumed they wouldn't be charged for signs they don't need. Bitter agreed, saying any materials the contractor does not use, including signs or asphalt, will not be added to the final project cost.

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Hoffman later said that for future projects, the council should include more city staff during discussion to determine whether 911 signs could be eliminated from the bid entirely by having city staff do that work.

It was one of many things he and the council agreed would need to be taken into consideration now that the city has experience doing such a large project.


Siltman said he wished the council had a chance to review the other itemized bids. Bitter asked why, since the final cost would not change on the bids.

Siltman wanted to see if one bidder had a different volume of materials. Bitter said all bidders were required to bid on the same exact materials as proposed by Widseth.

He said the city pays Widseth specifically to review contracts and then present the final costs, with recommendations, so the council didn't have to take additional time to compare contracts line by line.

After satisfying their questions, the council voted unanimously to accept Widseth's recommendation of Northern Paving Inc. in Bemidji with the low bid of $248,025.

Only three council members voted: Andrew Rudlang, Kim Bachmann and Siltman. Jerimey Flategraff was not present and Hoffman lives within the bounds of one of the projects, so abstained from voting.

The project would be paid by assessing 50% through special assessment, with the city paying for the rest through its budget. The city has the funds available through future street reserves. They are also seeking bonds to perpetuate additional street projects going forward.

The council also discussed how to bond for the 2023 street project. Jason Murray, of David Drown and Associates, Inc., prepared a proposal to apply to Minnesota Rural Water Association's MIDI Loan Program for bonding.

Rudlang and Hoffman identified several advantages to bonding with MRWA instead of bonding the traditional way. The cost to bond with MRWA is less than $14,000 versus at least $25,000.


MRWA can also offer a lower rate of 5% for 10 years with an option to pay off the bond within up to five years without incurring additional interest and with no penalties, which is unheard of using a traditionally sourced bond.

Rudlang said he does not anticipate dragging out the repayment, given the future street reserves. Hoffman said he didn't want to see the city draw down its cash reserves all at once. He agreed that, should things go as planned, they would likely pay off the bonds early and avoid additional costs.

The council agreed to allow Murray to apply to MRWA. If their application is accepted, the council will need to revisit the topic to discuss approval of the bond.

In additional business, the city council:

  • Accepted donation of a free library box for Veterans Park. The city has to arrange for installation.
  • Agreed, without prompting by Siltman, to reimburse Siltman for training he received in Staples for $75.

Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or

Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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