SARANAC LAKE - The village's $12.5 million water project is under budget by more than $600,000, and village officials are weighing whether they should spend that savings on additional work associated with the project.
Chris Lawton of the engineering firm Barton and Loguidice told the village Board of Trustees at a special meeting Wednesday that the projected savings is actually closer to $780,000, but he's using $600,000 as a conservative estimate. The savings were spread out through several of the project's contracts.
For example, Lawton expects the village will spend $140,000 less than expected on its contract with J.E. Sheehan Contracting Corporation, which was responsible for installing a new water transmission main from the new wells behind the village wastewater treatment plant through American Management Association property and up to a new water storage tank on the side of Mount Pisgah. Another $130,000 was saved on the village's contract with Natgun Corporation for the new water tank, Lawton explained.
"The roads (on the AMA property) were in much better shape than we anticipated, so we didn't have to do full-width milling, full-width subbase, and you saved a lot on asphalt right there," he said. "That's a good chunk of that $140,000. The Pisgah tank, they didn't have to go off site for any rock. They saved a lot on fill because the village provided a lot of the fill for that road. So there's part of that $130,000 there."
The savings estimate also includes more than $400,000 in contingency funds that have yet to be tapped.
Lawton gave the village a list of additional work that money could be spent on: extending a new 12-inch water main farther down Park Avenue, installing a 10-inch main from Balsam Street to Glenwood Drive, putting in a new 8-inch water main on Duprey Street, and connecting two dead-end mains on Prospect Street. Paving at least nine streets where water mains were replaced last year was also included on the list: Charles Street, McClelland Street, Fairview Avenue, Pine Street, Helen Street, Shepard Avenue, Keene Street, Park Avenue and Glenwood Road.
Lawton said the savings can only be used for work on streets that have been part of the water project. He said the village has a few months before the contractors will return to work on the water project, but he'd like to let them know soon what additional work the village would like to have done.
Trustees said the water main replacement projects should be the priorities, followed closely by the paving work.
"I don't see anything glaring about the recommendations," said Mayor Clyde Rabideau. "It's a lot of money to spend, but for a good use. Frankly, most of these streets needed it well before the water lines were put in."
Trustee Allie Pelletieri asked if this is "the time and place to spend the money.
"I know we have a lot of projects going on," he said. "We don't know what our water rate is going to be, except we know it's going to go up. How much can we put on the backs of the people right now?"
Treasurer Paul Ellis said it makes more sense to do the additional work now, using the no-interest financing the village is getting from the state for the water project. If the village decided later to bond for the $600,000 worth of work, it would cost the village's water customers more, he said.
"It makes more sense to do it now at zero percent versus rolling the dice and seeing where things go," Ellis said. "Also, the fact that you're going to do all the paving all at once, there's just an economy of scale that you can save money versus doing it piecemeal."
The board will be asked to finalize the list of additional projects at its Feb. 29 meeting.
The village will also replace sidewalks, a project funded by a separate $1 million bond, this year on some of the same streets that could be repaved using the water project savings.
"We're going to have miles and miles of new tarmac, and miles and miles of new concrete sidewalks at the end of 2012," Rabideau said. "It appears like the village will look very spiffy by year's end."