With a favorable construction bid submitted earlier this month, Pottawatomie County officials want the fleet maintenance facility restored to its original proposed size.

Peter Clark, public works director, recommended Monday to build a 132-foot-by-100-foot fleet maintenance facility rather than the 132-foot-by-80-foot structure specified in the bid documents.

Widening the facility to extend the maintenance bays by 20 feet would add an estimated $250,000 to the project cost, but is financially feasible due to a bid nearly $350,000 below the engineer’s estimate, Clark told commissioners.

Widening the structure and accepting recommended bid alternates (both add-ons and deducts), would bring the total cost of the facility to about $1.5 million, about $33,000 higher than the engineer’s estimate of $1.477 million.

Commissioners were less than receptive to the proposal and tabled the issue for further consideration.

“You come in here and add another $300,000 onto the cost. I figured that (low bid) would be a savings,” said Commissioner Pat Weixelman. “I’m going to take a week or so to take a look at these numbers.”

Six contractors submitted bids for the project, with Schultz Construction, Manhattan, submitting the low base bid of $1.13 million. There were also 10 bid alternates included in the specifications.

In other business Monday:

• The commission proposed a 33%/66% split with the City of Westmoreland for improvements to Campbell Street from Walnut Street to K-99, about 2,700 feet.

The proposal is to improve the base and widen the street, which receives substantial heavy equipment traffic from the county shop.

The Westmoreland City Council has indicated it would agree to vacate a portion of Cochrun Street in exchange for the county’s help with improvements to Campbell, allowing the connection of the county shop with the new fleet maintenance facility to the south.

The original proposal was for a 50-50 cost split, but the city council last week countered with a 25-75 proposal, with the city reimbursing the county over a period of two or three years.

Commissioners Monday agreed to pay for 66% of the total estimated cost of $230,000 for a four-inch asphalt overlay, provided the city assumes maintenance of the street after completion.

• The commission approved a conditional date of March 9 to receive bids for improvements to the intersection of U.S. Highway 24 and Green Valley Road.

If the Kansas Department of Transportation approves the bid date, the project is expected to begin in late April or early May, said Clark.

The county’s share of the project cost has increased by about $560,000 to a total of about $2.577 million because of additional engineering and right-of-way acquisition costs, as well as the need to contract construction inspection services. Clark estimated inspection services at $375,000, necessitated since two of the county’s three inspectors are not yet state-certified.

“$375,000 in inspection cost is absurd. I think we’re getting hosed,” Weixelman said, noting that he is investigating an alternative inspection service.

The intersection project will include widening of U.S. 24 to accommodate eastbound double left turn lanes; closure of the center median west of Green Valley; widening of Green Valley to the north; a new reverse frontage road between Green Valley and Powers Lane; adding a double right turn lane for southbound Green Valley; improving Dempsey Road to the south; and a new traffic signal to align with extra turn lanes.

• Lois Schlegel announced her retirement June 30, after 23 years with the county, the last 16 as appraiser.

“Throughout the 16 years of being county appraiser, I have seen many challenges and have made many friends and, hopefully, not too many enemies,” Schlegel said in her retirement letter to the commission.

“My No. 1 goal as county appraiser has always been to do my best to educate the taxpayer on the processes of this office,” she said. “Also, my job was to be fair and equitable in everything that we valued and I hope that we did that to the best of our ability.”

• Jared Barnes, fire supervisor, said Consolidated Fire District 1 would receive four new pumpers and tankers this week for stations at Olsburg, Havensville, Wheaton and St. George.

The commission also authorized the lease purchase of 42 new airpacks for the fire district at a total cost of $337,711, or about $70,000 annually for the next five years.

• Jared Prebyl of Midwest Auction Pros presented the county with a check for $56,100 — the sale price of a used county motor grader auctioned recently.

After the presentation, the commission approved the sale of two more used graders with Midwest Auction Pros, and approved the purchase of a new John Deere motor grader at a cost of $258,950.

• The commission tabled a decision on a policy regarding employee compensation when county offices are closed due to weather or other emergency.

Following presentation of a policy proposal by Chad Kinsley, administrator, and Crystal Malchose, human resources director, Commissioner Greg Riat said he needed more time to discuss a policy that would impact the county for years to come.