SVID inks irrigation work contract

With uncertainty about stimulus funding this fall, the Sunnyside Valley Irrigation District board of directors took a flexible approach last Friday in approving contracts for work in the Grandview area.

SVID Manager Jim Trull said there is $6.5 million stimulus money on hand, but the work to be done in 2011-12 will cost about $9 million.

He said SVID won't know until mid-September if there will be additional federal stimulus, or ARRA, funds available. Even if some is freed up for SVID's project to enclose its canals, Trull said it might be a relatively small amount.

Given that, the board followed staff suggestions and approved contracts totaling $1.7 million for work to start on piping canals in an area called Schedule A. That portion includes an area between Hornby Road and Grandview High School.

The board also approved contracts totaling $4.9 million for Schedule B, which encompasses an area west of Dykstra Park plus areas south and west of Grandview High School.

The contracts approved on Friday will be funded through the stimulus money SVID has on hand.

But that still leaves $2.5 million needed to contract for pumping work in Schedule A, as well as piping for Schedule C (which includes areas on both sides of the Sunnyside-Mabton Highway)

To that end, Trull suggested - and the board approved - a loan to the Sunnyside Division Board of Control to cover the difference. Trull said the loan is possible because SVID anticipates having $7.2 million in cash reserves by the end of the year.

Lori Brady with SVID said the reserves are in place because SVID was compensated for its employees work on previous stimulus funded piping projects.

But instead of issuing contracts for Schedule A pumping work and Schedule C, the board followed staff's guidance in giving SVID officials an opportunity to negotiate further.

Don Schramm, a contract engineer with the Sunnyside Division, said flexibility is needed with the remaining work because of the possibility stimulus funding may be available.

Stimulus funds, Schramm notes, come with requirements that tend to make projects more expensive, such as requiring American-made parts.

As a result, SVID will need to have contracts that reflect both its own funding, as well as one with stimulus funding.

Schramm cautioned that the final word on more stimulus money may not come until October. "That will be too late for us," he said, noting the SVID loan would have to be used. "We need to begin the projects before October."


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