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Caldart Ave. rolls despite lingering funding question

POULSBO — The Caldart Avenue reconstruction finally has a contractor and a plan to begin work soon.

The only question now is how a $99,000 chunk of the project will be paid.

At its June 9 meeting, the Poulsbo City Council unanimously approved a $924,658 contract with Port Orchard’s Stan Palmer Construction for the Caldart Avenue reconstruction project.

The bid award included choosing between four different options each contractor was required to propose for the project. Palmer’s bid for those four choices ranged from $907,697 to the $924,658 that was approved. These bids were well below the engineer’s estimate, which ranged from $940,106 to $949,834. Council members decided to support the most costly version because it included three stamped-concrete crosswalks and a concrete sidewalk in front of St. Olaf’s Catholic Church that weren’t in the lowest bid package.

“For $17,000, it’s like upgrading to first class. This has everything we wanted in the first place,” Councilman Jim Henry commented.

The road project’s total $1.07 million price tag is planned to be paid for by $855,627 in bonds, a $150,000 grant from the Washington State Department of Transportation pedestrians near schools safety program, $86,720 from the North Kitsap School District and $8,000 from St. Olaf’s Church.

But there is also a water line replacement component to the project for which funding is still unaccounted. The $99,029 in additional costs was to be paid out of the Fund 402 water reserves, however, Public Works Utilities Planning, Engineering and Management Division Head Bill Duffy reported Wednesday that the fund coffers were completely empty as of May 31. The water fund still has operating money available, but nothing in its reserves.

“I don’t know what’s going on in the fund,” Duffy commented when asked how the fund got down the zero. “Some of it is the repayment for water to wastewater. We still owe another $100,000 to that.”

The water fund recently began repaying a $600,000 interfund loan back to the wastewater fund. That has been done with $100,000 payments the last five months.

Members of the council’s Public Works Committee asked Wednesday if there was any way to cut the water portion out of the project but were told it is not recommended. Poulsbo has a policy against digging up newly-paved roads for a certain amount of time and staff worry that the construction alone could cause a break in the 1950s or 1960s era asbestos concrete pipes.

“Asbestos has a tendency to break, especially when you start running vibratory runners right over it,” Duffy commented.

Despite the budget challenge, council agreed to approve the contract with Stan Palmer and allow Finance Director Nanci Lien to look at funding options. One option discussed was to allow the water reserves to borrow the necessary money from the bond proceeds already being used in the road portion of the project.

In March 2003, the Poulsbo City Council approved the sale of a little more than $2.5 million in general obligation bonds. They were meant to repay the bond anticipation note (BAN) on the Morris Property, which is the proposed site for the new Poulsbo City Hall. They also funded last summer’s Finn Hill widening and are planned to pay for the Caldart and 10th Avenue improvements.

The 10th Avenue project was suspended for the time being after construction bids came in too high last month.

Council also determined this month that any residual bond money may be used to fund a traffic signal at the intersection of Lincoln Road and Caldart. That light was mandated with the council’s approval of the Caldart Heights Planned Unit Development this month. Interim Public Works Director John Stephenson suggested looking into the legality of allowing a loan to the water reserves for the Caldart needs from that pot as well.

“If it means there’s that much less money to do the light, so be it,” Councilman Dale Rudolph said. “We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do.”

“And we’re working on that traffic light,” Councilwoman Kathryn Quade added. “We’re putting anything and everything we can into that. We do have the six-year window with the light, although we don’t want to use it, but we don’t have a six-year window with the water.”

Project Engineer Andrzej Kasiniak said other options for funding discussed included an interfund loan or rolling the cost into the anticipated bond sales to fund the State Route 305 sewer extension project.

The actual funding decision will be before council in the near future but the contract approval allows the project to go forward. Kasiniak said the plan is to start construction as soon as possible after school gets out June 17.

Also at the June 9 council meeting:

•Councilman Rudolph reported that the city received 14 applications for the new Public Works Director, which have been narrowed down to six or seven semifinalists. Consultant Waldron & Company of Seattle will be interviewing the semifinalists to reduce the number to three or four finalists, who will be interviewed by a hiring committee. It is planned that city staff and possibly the public will have an opportunity to meet the applicants in early July.

•The public hearing to consider the Wonderland Retreat Conditional Use Permit was postponed to 7:15 p.m. July 14 in council chambers. The proposal would create a vacation retreat rental at 459 NE Hostmark Avenue that would provide short-term accommodations for groups as large as 12 people.

•Council approved North Kitsap Self Storage to circulate a 60 percent petition for annexation to be included in the city. However, council expanded the borders of the initial proposal of 14.5 acres to also include a small parcel of Kitsap County-owned land to its west and Valley Nursery to its north. Council members believe the annexation’s new borders will be successful because Poulsbo has a memorandum of understanding with the county and the nursery has a utility extension agreement that requires it to eventually annex into the city.

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