This is the newsletter that I had promised to deal specifically with the two major projects that we have on the go at the moment, dealing with our sewer and water systems.
The first project I will discuss is the Water Storage Reservoir. It is amazing how many people around Town think that what is currently being built is a water treatment facility. Well, this is not the case. It is true that this current construction project fits in with the overall multi-year capital infrastructure plan to bring better water to our community. At the end of the day, that probably means reverse osmosis water as the current source of our water, the Hatfield Aquifer does not lend itself to palatability. This water reservoir will add to our storage capacity and is meant to provide a cushion for not only the growth that Esterhazy has seen in recent years but also for what may come in the future. Indeed, this additional reservoir was needed to satisfy the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency’s requirements for treated water storage for a community of our size.
A request for proposal was sent out to general contractors by our engineering firm – Associated Engineering. Your Town Council outsourced this process as we do not have the expertise or experience in dealing with such matters around the Council table. Following a full due diligence process by Associated Engineering a recommendation came to Council to accept the lowest tender from Graham Construction. The total cost of the contract was $ 1,398,500.00 and to date, $ 892,754.00 has been paid to Graham Construction in the form of progress payments. This project is ahead of schedule and within budget. It is important to note that once your Town Council had awarded the construction project to Graham Construction that marked the end of our involvement. Graham Construction was solely responsible for hiring the sub-trades and sub-contractors without any requirement to advise or consult with Town Council in this regard. Finally, I want to advise that no government funding was forthcoming for this project and also that the Town of Esterhazy has not incurred any debt to complete this project. Indeed, your urban municipality has no debt on its balance sheet at the present time.
The second project I will address is the Sewage Pump Station # 3 Force Main (commonly referred to as SPS # 3). Following the terrible floods in 2011 and 2014 it became evident that we had to undertake some major upgrades to our sewer systems to prevent flooding and sewer backups into people’s basements. The estimated cost for this project and all the associated components is $ 1,680,000.00. However, three quarters of this cost will be covered by grants from both the Federal Government (50%) and the Provincial Government (25%). This means the Town of Esterhazy will have to put $ 420,000.00 or 25% of the total towards this project. The money for this expenditure had been set aside in the form of reserves in previous years and, once again, the Town incurred no debt for this project. The SPS # 3 Project was handled through the normal tender process under the guidance of Associated Engineering with the lowest tender being accepted. Again, once your Town Council had selected the successful bidder through the tender process our involvement ended. We are not consulted or responsible for sub-trades or sub-contractors. Associated Engineering conducts ongoing inspections on our behalf and provides the technical expertise to bring about the successful completion of the projects.
It is very clear that the completion of our multi-year capital plan, including the building of a new water treatment facility will be contingent upon the availability of government funding, both from the provincial and federal governments. Our infrastructure requirements can simply not be met by relying upon the local tax base. We must have access to provincial and federal government general revenue funds to move forward. In times of budget constraints as we now find ourselves in Saskatchewan, it is understandable that we might well incur some delays in moving our various capital projects forward.
I am very pleased that some of these projects that have been in the planning stage for quite some time are finally coming to fruition. We are heading in the right direction but to achieve our final goal will take time and patience not to mention a considerable amount of government funding.
Remember that I am always available to take a phone call if you have questions on any of our projects. The same is true of our Chief Administrative Officer, Donna Rollie. She has a far stronger grasp on the operational matters in our municipality than do I, as that is her role. Your Mayor and Councilors are tasked with dealing at the strategic and directional level and it is not our role to get involved in the low-level, day-to-day operational matters of our municipality.
In my next newsletter I will be addressing the issue of our ongoing operational costs. Our CAO recently did some research to ascertain how our costs have changed over the last three years. You might be surprised to know that our operating costs have basically flat-lined over the last three years and have increased at a rate well below that of inflation. More on that next month.
Roy Spence, Mayor of Esterhazy