The Pendleton City Council is nearing some important decisions as it hones in on building the fire station central to the $10 million bond voters passed in May.

At a workshop Tuesday, Pendleton Fire Chief Mike Ciraulo said he would have two requests at the next council meeting — approving a contract for architectural design work with the Mackenzie group and an alternative method of bidding out construction services.

Ciraulo said staff told him this alternative method could deliver a cheaper project. After design services are completed, the city would typically award the project to the lowest bidder.

City staff is instead suggesting the city undertake a method called construction manager/general contractor project delivery.

In an interview after the meeting, Ciraulo said the city would still send out a request for proposal to find a contractor, but the contractor would get involved in the project during the design process rather than after it.

The selected contractor would provide input to Mackenzie during the design phase and identify areas where there could be cost savings.

The contractor would submit a “guaranteed maximum price” of the construction costs toward the end of the design phase and begin hiring subcontractors for things like electrical work and heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

Ciraulo said this method could save the city money in the long run by preventing high bids and change orders.

During the construction process, “change orders kill you,” Ciraulo said.

Regardless of how its done, the city will have to make the construction and design costs fit into the $9.4 million budget for the fire station.

Early in the process, the city has already been able to save a little money.

Ciraulo told the council that the independent appraisal to acquire the future fire station’s Southeast Court Avenue property from St. Anthony Hospital was $360,000 — $25,000 lower than the city projected.

According to Mackenzie, fire station construction will begin in August 2018 and finish in September 2019.

Public Works Director Bob Patterson will also approach the city council with a request to hire an engineering firm.

The council will consider hiring Anderson Perry & Associates for $503,000 to gather data for its streets and stormwater systems and help craft a street utility master plan, among other services.

Adding data about the city’s street and drainage infrastructure to its geographic information system will help the city determine how it will pay to maintain those utilities.

After Anderson Perry conducts evaluation on the city’s impervious and non-impervious surfaces on commercial and industrial territory, the city could implement a stormwater utility fee to pay for the drainage system’s needs.

City Manager Robb Corbett explained the need to raise more revenue for the stormwater system.

“I don’t know how many 100-year storms we’ve had in the five years that I’ve been here, but it’s been several,” he said. “Every time that happens, we get phone calls from people at key locations around the city where there’s recurring flooding issues because this stormwater system was designed for an environment that is different today. We don’t have the resources to be able to repair that and we don’t have resources identified to maintain it.”

The street utility master plan would be an update to a 2013 study that showed Pendleton had a $16 million road maintenance backlog.

Corbett said the city could take out a loan to wipe away the backlog.

Patterson said the prospect of using a loan to address deferred maintenance while putting a hold on ongoing maintenance “scares the crap out of me.”

“I don’t know if we would have any money to address the road maintenance if we were to bond the work,” Corbett responded. “But I do know that we are losing roads faster than we’re fixing them. Both of (those prospects) scare the crap out of me, but it’s just a matter if you want to deal with it now or deal with it over time.”

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Contact Antonio Sierra at asierra@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0836.

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