Utilities department employees are sharing space with Public Works department employees and the lack of space has resulted in use of a storage building as office space. Staff photo by Rick Popptiz

Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
There were two items of new business on the agenda at the Dec. 7 Utility Advisory Commission meeting. Commission considered a service contract to paint combustion turbines and staff recommendation to lease a modular office building for Line Maintenance staff.
Five bids were collected for service and materials to paint Combustion Turbines #1 and #2. The recommended bid was the low bid of $20,705 from Performance Contracting Inc.
This is for painting of the metal enclosure that provides the actual turbine from the weather. The last time they were painted was 1990.
Staff displayed a series photos showing the poor condition of the paint and areas of severe rust. The vendor would first come in and perform an technique similar to sand blasting on all the surfaces then city employees would cut out rust areas and weld in new material. Contractor would then return to prime and paint.
Mark Baldwin, chairman, asked how long this paint job was expected to last and if there was any type of warranty.
Staff reply was that they asked for ten years in the contract.
Motion to approve was made by Clint Barney, seconded by Ryan Learned, and passed with four aye votes and none opposed. Duane Waldman was absent.
The next item was staff recommendation to lease a modular office building for Line Maintenance staff.
The Line Maintenance staff is tasked with maintaining a leak free water system and obstruction free wastewater system. There are currently eight employees with two more being added in 2018 and they share office space with street maintenance staff in the Public Works maintenance facilities located at 329 S. Meadowbrook Circle.
Staff currently uses a spare parts storage building to conduct meetings and as office space for computer and paper work.
Staff concludes that a more suitable work space is necessary and recommends a 60 month lease for a used or refurbished modular office building that includes office space, meeting room and bathroom facilities with a shower from preferred vendor William Scotsman for $73,708.
Commissioners questioned leasing versus buying or building. Gonzalo Garcia, utilities director, said they chose leasing because of the cost savings. A new modular building would be around $150,000 and new construction of a traditional building might be $400,000.
The idea is this is temporary housing for employees and that after five years, plans for a new public works facility and more permanent space would become available.
Commissioners asked, what if we had a new building ready in three years, or what if we need it for ten years?
“What I’m worried about right now is that if we do this, we still don’t have it on the plan [Capitol Improvement Plan]. There’s no guarantee right now, that in five years we build a building, or have one ready,” Baldwin said.
Clint Barney said it seemed like putting the cart before the horse.
“I’d like to have a long term plan in place before we spend money on a short term plan,” said Baldwin.
Barney made a motion to table the item for six months, but the motion got no second.
“I like the idea of tabling, I don’t know that we should put a time frame on it”, said Baldwin.
Barney made another motion to table, this time with no mention of duration, which was seconded by Andrew Krievins and carried with all in favor.
The Utility Advisory Commission meets each month on the first Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers. All meetings are open to the public.