Commissioners allocate funds for wastewater plant | News, Sports, Jobs
WARREN — Trumbull County commissioners approved additional funds to be appropriated for the $32 million upgrade to a wastewater treatment plant in Howland, which was supposed to be completed in the summer of 2021.
These additional funds should move the Mosquito Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant capital improvement project along, and the project is now expected to be completed in the coming months. The price of the engineering firm’s contract and the contractor’s contract were increased.
This capital improvement project is a complete renovation of the wastewater treatment plant, which has not been done since 1986. Assistant Sanitary Engineer Scott Verner said this usually is done every 25 to 30 years. The project will bring the plant up to current environmental standards.
The water treated goes into Mosquito Lake, which supplies drinking water for the city of Warren. Verner said one of the biggest upgrades is being able to filter out phosphorus, which it could not previously do.
The project is being funded through the Ohio EPA Water Pollution Control Loan Fund,which is a low-interest loan that the county will pay back.
An additional $392,000 will be allocated from the Trumbull County Sanitary Engineer’s Office to CT Consultants of Youngstown, the engineering firm on the project, bringing its total contract to $4.355 million. Commissioner Mauro Cantalamessa said this additional money was negotiated down from an original asking price of $800,000.
The commissioners also approved an additional $542,000 from the sanitary engineer’s office to A.P. O’Horo of Youngstown, which is the contractor company, bringing the total contract to $32.5 million.
Verner said these increases are expected as a project of this size is completed and pointed out that the project is costing only $710,000 more than when the original contract with A.P. O’Horo was approved in July 2019.
“There are unforeseen circumstances, unfortunately, with projects of this magnitude,” Verner said. “It happens.”
Commissioner Niki Frenchko voted against both items. While she said she does want the project to move forward, she has concerns about the legality of the change orders. She wanted to table the measures for the next meeting, but the other commissioners found that to be unnecessary. Neither item has been reviewed by the county prosecutor, although the language of the measure said it would only take affect “subject to the approval of the prosecutor’s office.”
Frenchko said she doubted that this meant the change order would come back to the commissioners if the prosecutor had concerns. Cantalamessa said the language of the measure means the vote would not be valid if the prosecutor had a concern.
In the second change order, Frenchko questioned if it is unusual to pay for builder’s insurance, which made up $29,000 of the change order for the contract with A.P. O’Horo. Verner said it depends on the circumstances.
In this case, the contractors wanted only to pay for $2 million worth of coverage, which is how much work they have left, but the sanitary engineer’s department felt more comfortable with continuing to have the full amount of coverage, which is $31.7 million. For this reason, the department opted to pay for builder’s insurance.
“Ultimately, we just didn’t want to put the county at risk,” Verner said.
Commissioner Frank Fuda brought up frustrations dating back to 2016. At that time, a different engineering firm had created a capital improvement plan, which Verner said is like a roadmap for the entire project. Against the recommendations of his staff, the sanitary engineer at the time went with CT Consultants to be the engineering firm for the project. Fuda said this may have cost the county millions of dollars and caused delays in the project.
Verner said this did cause delays in beginning construction, but there also was some delay in construction. He said in a project this size, many factors, some unforeseen, contribute to a delay. The project is now expected to be completed in the coming months, but the department may have to continue some of the work into the spring.