Cold weather prompts IM to seek purchase of water main equipment


Staff Writer

IRON MOUNTAIN – Recent colder-than-normal weather led the Iron Mountain City Council to take action Monday night to allow for the purchase of a piece of equipment that is needed to locate water main breaks.

City Manager Jordan Stanchina noted that the city in the past has always rented the “buster” used to break through the ground and frost to find broken water main.

An arrangement with Bacco Construction Co. worked well for many years until Bacco was using their equipment more due to the increase in their work load, he added.

Most recently, the city has had to rent the equipment from a private party and pay $150 an hour to use it. With two recent water main breaks, the cost to use the equipment totaled $2,700.

Councilman Dale Alessandrini felt that the best idea would be to give the city manager the authority to purchase a new buster at a cost of up to $15,000.

“The real problems will be once the temperatures warm up again next week. If one comes up at a decent price, this action will give Jordan the ability to get it,'” Alessandrini said.

Council Bill Revord asked whether they had checked with Kingsford to see if they wanted to share the cost since they also have need for this equipment.

Stanchina said that he had mentioned it to Kingsford City Manager Tony Edlebeck. In the past, Kingsford had also rented the equipment. He added he still had some research to do on the one he had seen for sale.

Councilman Bob Moraska asked whether there was money in the equipment fund for this purchase. Stanchina said that they could find the money for it.

“It seems to make sense right now to buy it new rather than used and we can rent it out to Kingsford,” Moraska said.

Stanchina added that the city typically gets 5-10 water main breaks a winter and the costs to repair them vary.

“The one on the highway cost us $2,000 and the other one $700. It depends on whether you have to chase them (water mains) to get to the frost. If that happens, it’s going to cost you more. The one on the highway was like that and we also lost 500,000 gallons of water. But if you did find it right above where it breaks, it would only take 3-4 hours to fix,” Stanchina said.

At Monday’s meeting, the council also opened four proposals for consultants for the Small Urban Program, which resurfaces/reconstructs roads in the city designated as major streets.

Proposals were received from Coleman Engineering of Iron Mountain for $17,612; OHM of Hancock for $30,000; GEI of Iron Mountain for $21,760 and U.P. Engineers of Iron Mountain for $15,730.

The proposals will be reviewed by city staff and members of the infrastructure committee with a recommendation coming back to the council for action.

The funding for the Small Urban Program is 80 percent from the state and 20 percent from the city. The money was reallocated from Hydraulic Falls Road, which had a reduction in the scope of the project. This is a project between the city and the Dickinson County Road Commission.

The road will be paved from Breitung Cutoff to the railroad tracks instead of Stephenson Avenue. The additional monies were reprogrammed to Margaret Street from the city limits to Grant Street and Park Avenue from East D Street to East A Street.

The proposals request was for a consultant to assist the city in complying with the grant specifications and provide construction inspection as required by the grant, Stanchina said. In evaluating the proposals the committee, will also look at how the consultants approached Stanchina’s request on what to do with the portion of Margaret Street that borders Lake Antoine whether to resurface it or reconstruct it.

In the city manager’s report, the council also heard that the Solid Waste Management Authority reviewed their budget on Dec. 18, and determined that an increase of $5 a ton was needed to be made effective Jan. 1, for the operation of the facility. This will increase the charge per ton from $66 to $71.

Stanchina said that this would increase the city’s cost of disposing of its garbage by approximately $6,500 for the remainder of its fiscal period – which ends on June 30.

In reviewing this information with Chief Financial Officer Carol Bartolameoli, Stanchina said that the city may be able to absorb the increase without raising rates. He added that the garbage collection and disposal costs come out of the general fund and they do not want to create an additional deficit in that fund.

“A rate increase is not necessary at this time, but we will continue to monitor the costs to see if an increase will be necessary prior to June 30,” he added.

Linda Lobeck’s e-mail address is