Council approves construction bids, labor agreement

The Austin City Council awarded bids for various projects during its first regular meeting conducted remotely Monday evening.

The Turtle Creek Trail construction project, which will be a pedestrian/bike trail that will run from the intersection of Fourth Street and 16th Avenue Southwest along Turtle Creek to Bustad Park, was awarded to Hansen Hauling & Excavating, Inc., who gave a bid of $215,090.

The project will be funded from the Capital Improvement Fund, a Hormel Foundation Grant and a DNR Grant.

The bid for asphalt street reconstruction for Fifth Avenue Northeast, Fifth Street Southwest, Sixth Avenue Southwest, Seventh Street Southwest, Seventh Street Northwest and Ninth Avenue Northwest, was awarded to Ulland Brothers, Inc. for $3,089,655.50. The work will consist of pavement removal, sanitary sewer and storm sewer improvements, asphalt paving and sidewalk replacement. The project will be funded by the Capital Improvement Fund, Waste Water Treatment Plant Fund and Stormwater Utility Fund.

The bid for sanitary sewer construction work in the Turtle Creek 2 neighborhood on Oakland Avenue West at 36th, 37th and 40th Streets was awarded to Elcor Construction, Inc. for $1,171,227.45. The work will involve constructing a sanitary sewer collection system to service 40 homes with a combination of a gravity and low-pressure system. It also includes construction of a lift station at Oakland Avenue West and 40th Street. Funding is contingent on the completion of a Point Source Implementation Grant along with funds from the Waste Water Treatment Plant.

The council approved a labor agreement and memorandum with the Austin Employees Association during the meeting. According to City Administrator Craig Clark, the AEA had an expired contract as of Jan. 1 as the details of the compensation and classification study moved forward. The extension is for 2020-2022.

Councilman Jason Baskin cast the sole dissenting vote on the labor agreement.

“Consistent with the overall comp and class, I think a 31 percent increase over three years is financially unsustainable in the best of times,” he said, referring to the findings of the compensation and classification study. “I think, especially with unemployment increasing and with a lot of our businesses having zero revenue right now, that this is an even more challenging time to be handing out those levels of raises.”

The council also approved the implementation of the Cedar-Wapsipinicon Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan.

The council received an update on the COVID-19 situation in regards to city employees.

“While things have moved quickly, we’ve had to digest a lot of HR type issues at the state level with our own employees and some of the federal legislation that’s gone into effect,” said Austin Police Chief David McKichan. “I think we’ve had really good partnerships within the city working on those, letting the department heads structure those for their own departments, all of it really for trying to build out resiliency for the potential of sickness coming through our ranks and impacting critical services. Right now we stand on the brink of an unknown. We haven’t seen those losses, but we’ve been preparing for them in the last three weeks.”

McKichan also praised the Austin community for its handling of the situation.

“I think the Austin community has been doing a fantastic job of abiding by (the Stay at Home Order) by staying at home and making the necessary trips they need to make,” he said. “As our weather fluctuates, we’re seeing a lot of people out and about on foot (…) It’s a neat thing to see the community getting out and about and I think that’s important (…) We (the Austin Police Department) really have not gotten any complaints from citizens on other citizens at this point in time. Some of the minor ones we’ve had to follow up on, everyone’s been really receptive to it.”