North East approves water rate study
— The North East town board awarded the bid Wednesday night for a study that will examine and make recommendations about the town’s water rate structure.
The board voted to award the bid for the study to H. Wilden and Associates Inc., of Allentown, Pa., for $19,900. The study is estimated to
take approximately three months to complete, said Ken Natale, the town’s director of finance and administration.
The town budgeted $25,000 for the study and put out a request for proposals in August. The deadline to submit proposals was Sept. 30 and after reviewing the two proposals received, town staff recommended the board go with Wilden.
Because a water rate study is a professional service, the contract is not automatically awarded to the lowest bidder. Instead, bidders must submit a cost proposal and a technical proposal, which is scored on an 85-point scale, Natale said.
“These two bidders scored comparatively. Where they diverged greatly is on the cost,” he said.
The other bidder, Black & Veatch, a national company with an office in Wilmington, Del., submitted a cost proposal of $77,800, Natale said.
Mayor Robert McKnight asked if Natale had any idea why the two cost proposals were so different. Natale said the only significant difference he could find was the number of people working on the project. While Wilden will have less people working on the study, Natale said he doesn’t expect this will impact the timeline.
When Natale proposed conducting a water rate study during the town’s budget meetings last spring, he noted that such a study should be done every 10 or 15 years.
The town’s request for proposals states that the “broad objective of the study is to adequately fund the water utility operations and capital costs while minimizing rates to the greatest degree possible.”