From the Birmingham news:

Contract change could have violated state law

Friday, December 23, 2005
NANCY WILSTACH

News staff writer

The Montevallo City Council canceled a $270,000 change to a sewer line contract Thursday after the city's engineer said the council may have violated state law.

The change was part of a $470,000 contract with Nichols Construction to extend a sewer line north of Moore's Crossroads to serve two new subdivisions, Hidden Forest and Colonial Oaks.

Usually, the Montevallo Water and Sewer Board constructs sewer and water lines, but the city agreed to take on this project because the water board was strapped for cash to expand water and sewer lines simultaneously.

At City Engineer Ben Carr's recommendation, the council approved a $270,000 change to the contract last month to add a lift station to the project.

Carr said at Thursday's special council meeting that when he recommended the change, he had "thought that it was in the bounds of the state bid law." After consulting with lawyers, he recommended Thursday the council rescind that order. The council voted unanimously to do so.

Bids on the lift station will be opened Jan. 5, Carr said, and the council can award a contract Jan. 9.

Council members also discussed impact fees that they had expected to pay for the sewer and water work.

Larry Robinson's Colonial Oaks and Kenneth Carter's Hidden Forest will have 340 single-family residential lots, and those lots are subject to a $1,000 impact fee.

However, a second phase of Hidden Forest includes an additional 200 lots. There is a question whether the city or the water board will receive the impact fees from those lots.

That is a big, expensive question for the council, said Councilwoman Becky Cox-Rodgers.

"The city is going to lose $130,000 due to the split of the Hidden Forest property," she said. "We need to be receiving impact fees from the whole thing until this is repaid."

Mayor Sharon Anderson said she is in negotiations with the Water and Sewer Board about the impact fees on the remaining 200 lots.