Granbury City Council voted unanimously on Oct. 17 to award the East Wastewater Treatment Plant Improvement project to Gracon Construction, Inc., in the amount of $34,112,000.
City Manager Chris Coffman explained to the public this project had been rebid and the city has a “great working relationship” with Gracon following the completion of a previous project.
Place 2 council member Eddie Rodriquez asked Keith Kendall, who works for the civil engineering firm Enprotec/Hibbs & Todd, Inc., what the differences were between the companies they considered for the project recently compared to the last time the city put the project out for bid.
Kendall explained that all the construction companies had been “about the same,” and they all had bids centered around a $34 million cost.
Rodriquez then asked Kendall if this cost is normal for post-COVID and if he is seeing “the same thing” across the board in the industry.
Kendall said he thought he would never see a high cost of $34 million for a wastewater treatment plant. However, he said as this particular plant contains a biological nutrient removal and other additions, this plant is considered “advanced.”
He also added that with delays surrounding supply chain issues, the completion time for the project has been pushed back to 27 months.
“We had estimated 24 months, but we're comfortable with the 27 months they proposed for substantial completion,” Kendall said. “Obviously, with the price being the way it is, I certainly wish I could tell you this is the exception, but it's not."
Rodriquez then pointed out the sacrifices the city has had to make in order to move forward with the wastewater treatment plant project, including sacrificing almost $10 million worth of other projects.
"Because of the increase in cost, we had to put those projects on the back burner, which is really sad, because when you're a steward of the city's money and your taxpayers’ money, we want to get the most bang for the buck,” he said. “But the city is doing everything possible to be diligent and be good stewards of the city taxpayers’ money. And I just want to say to Chris and your staff, and everybody that was involved in this, thank you for looking at this and seeing how we can even reduce the cost from $38 million to $34 million.”
Coffman commented that he networks with other city managers and explained they’ve talked about sewer plants and pricing. He said the type of system they’re replacing the south treatment plant with is priced the same in another city.
"I feel like we're getting a good value here in today's world,” he said. “It's unfortunate. I just want to go on record and say when we were looking at this in 2018, it was a little under $10 million to do this project.”
Coffman said following that, they went with a CMAR (Construction Manager at Risk) construction to upgrade the old plant with new facilities and technology, and the estimate from the CMAR was almost $16 million.
"By the time we got through COVID and the delays — the little electric switch that goes from the main power to the unit took two years to get — it's three-and-a-half times what it should have cost before COVID,” Coffman said. “Of course, Texas is experiencing growth . . . so it's just kind of the nature of where we live. We're blessed to live in Texas in a growing economy, but this inflation is killing us.”
Kendall said Gracon has been in business for 46 years, and Enprotect/Hibbs & Todd, Inc., has worked with them for 34 years.
"Despite the long road to get here, I couldn't be happier to be here in front of you today, as this has been a long road for everybody — and this, despite everything, is a great day to get this moving,” he said.
Place 3 council member Bruce Wadley then asked Kendall if anything had changed about the new wastewater plant since he had joined the Granbury City Council five years ago.
Kendall replied that “nothing within the plans and specifications from five years ago has changed.”
"I know Mr. Coffman said when this was first looked at, it was $10 million and when I was elected five years ago, it was $13 million, so I know the opposition had good intentions, and they really felt like this is what they needed to do. But the delay caused by those lawsuits and everything has cost the city $20 million,” Wadley said. “We're building the same thing that needed to be built. I could understand this was a great plant. I appreciate that, but I just hate the delay because of the expense that it's cost (the city).”
With no further discussion, the council unanimously voted to award the East Wastewater Treatment Plant Improvement project to Gracon Construction, Inc., in the amount of $34,112,000.