A big drainage project recommended for the area of the new county complex in Payson could be a bigger drain of funds than expected.

The project is a joint effort by Gila County and the Town of Payson and, according to the intergovernmental agreement, is not to exceed $1 million.

The regional drainage project would provide the underground conveyance of surface runoff water that comes across Frontier Street, including the corner of Frontier Street and State Route 87 to the American Gulch. The aim is to maximize the capacity of the new underground conveyance route constrained only by budget and the obstruction of existing large sewer lines.

The critical components for all design and construction administration are costing $124,049 instead of the original estimated and IGA approved cost of $75,000. The estimate was submitted by project engineer Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc., which is required to provide a complete engineering design, plan, and construction administration for the project.

Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. has the expertise to coordinate the design, model the flow, and evaluate the hydraulics at the proposed outlet.

The initial design effort sets the cost estimate for the project at $1,929,715 or nearly double the early estimate.

This cost exceeds the parameters of the IGA with the Town of Payson. The IGA will be amended to reflect the Town of Payson’s responsibility for all design and construction costs exceeding $500,000.

Town of Payson staff will be presenting to town council the amended IGA in November and it will be presented to the board of supervisors for approval in December 2020.

The Town of Payson council authorized the town staff to proceed with the design at the higher cost at its meeting Oct. 22. County staff sought similar approval from the board of supervisors. While there was a unanimous vote for approval, concerns and questions were also raised.

District 2 Supervisor Tim Humphrey asked what would happen if the project were more expensive than estimates.

Assistant county manager Homero Vela, who has overseen all the recent facility improvements, said, “We don’t know what the final cost of construction will be. With the animal shelter the estimate was for $4 million, but that came down to $2.8 million. There are a lot of unknowns. We may find it is not doable with $1 million.”

County manager James Menlove asked about the project’s timeline. Vela said demolition of the buildings on the property where the new complex is planned should start the week of Nov. 16; the drainage project should start in mid-January; construction on the complex is expected to begin in March. He said if it were decided to not go forward with the drainage project due to the expense, construction would start in mid- to late January.

District 3 Supervisor Woody Cline, chair of the BOS, asked if the drainage project would have to be done before construction could start. Vela said the construction company is talking about trying to do both projects at the same time. A more detailed discussion on that option was planned for a Thursday, Nov. 5 meeting.

Contact the reporter at tmcquerrey@payson.com

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