LAKE GEORGE — Bids for Lake George’s new wastewater treatment plant have come in much higher than expected, leaving village officials scrambling to find more money to build the state-mandated facility.
The cost for general construction, electrical and mechanical portions of the project came in at about $21.8 million, according to village Mayor Robert Blais. No bids were submitted for the plumbing component, which Blais said village engineers have estimated at between $350,000 and $400,000.
These figures do not include a contingency factor of 10 percent, which would mean an all-in cost of $24.2 million. The village has borrowed money based upon a $22 million total price tag.
“It’s not good news,” Blais said on Friday. “We obviously still need to find some other sources of financing.”
Blais said the village’s engineer, the Chazen Cos., blamed the high bids on the increased cost of steel and lumber.
Lake George is under a consent order from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to replace the 1930s-era plant because it emits an excessive amount of nitrates, which can cause algal blooms that can degrade the water quality of the lake. The new plant must be operational by August 2021.
The village has obtained about $7.2 million in grant funding. It is taking out a $15 million no-interest loan. Blais said Lake George can borrow another $2 million, but at a 4 percent interest rate, which will cost the village taxpayers.
Blais estimated the revised cost of the project could increase the village tax rate by 40 percent if no other funding is found. The current rate is $6.49 per $1,000 and Blais provided a ballpark estimate of $8.90.
“The impact is enormous. It’s not affordable,” he said.
Businesses would be hardest hit and the higher taxes would make it difficult for new businesses to come into the village, according to Blais.
Blais said the village does not have other available grants it can immediately seek.
In another bit of bad news, Blais said the village found out that it would not be able to apply for funding through the Northern Border Regional Commission because it had already gone out for bid for its project. He said the commission usually does not finance projects that are already in process.
“We had to go to bid when we did because we’ve got to be under construction this fall in order to complete the plant by 2021,” he said.
Blue Heron Construction of Jordan was the low bidder on the general contractor. The other low bidders were Stilsing Electric of Troy and Family Danz for the mechanical system, according to Blais.
The village has 90 days to award the bids. The first step is for engineers to find out why plumbing contractors picked up informational materials, but did not submit bids.
He said the village would rebid the plumbing portion of the project in the next three weeks.
Blais said the village also would like to sit down with DEC and talk about a possible extension of the consent order involving the sewage treatment plant.
“We’ve met all the deadlines so far,” he said.
“Our attorney, Matt Fuller, has already put DEC on notice that we would like to meet with them and discuss what possible avenues that we have under the consent order,” he added.
In addition, Blais said he is reaching out to the Governor’s Office and lobbying elected officials to seek funding. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who was in the village on Tuesday to talk about the project, said he would make a call on the village’s behalf.
“I’m still optimistic that the governor knows the value of Lake George and knows the situation that we’re in,” Blais said.