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Council weighs water tower agreement

Utility Service Co. offers repair, maintenance and more.

Gothenburg’s city council has a lofty decision.

In the next few weeks, the council will determine whether or not to pay a company to inspect and maintain the city water tower.

Since its construction in 1969, the city has hired contractors to inspect, repair, paint or perform other maintenance on the tower.

At the heart of the decision is the cost of the agreement in three installments—$203,556—for Utility Service Co. to do the work, which also includes maintaining records.

At their Dec. 6 meeting, council members listened to Utility Service Co. salesman Jack Dugger of Omaha tell how the city could shift liability for its 500,000-gallon tank to his company.

Costs were not openly discussed at the meeting but were included in information given to council members.

For the service, the city would be charged $67,852 for each of the first three years. During the fourth year, the cost would drop to $16,137.

On Thursday, city administrator Bruce Clymer said an advantage is that Utility Service Co. would take care of any issues and costs would be set, and budgeted for, yearly.

A disadvantage, Clymer said, is that it appears the company’s costs are higher than what the city pays to service the water tower now.

However he said re-painting the tower is needed within the next five years at a minimum cost of $160,000.

The last re-painting project was in 1991.

In addition, Clymer said the city spends around $1,300 per year for ongoing cathodic protection maintenance which controls corrosion on the tank.

Divers, every five years, also clean and inspect the tank’s interior.

Clymer said the last inspection was in May of 2010 at a cost of around $3,200.

Re-painting is expensive, he said, noting that other issues with the water tower could be substantial. Utility Service Co. would cover most of those in the agreement.

Still, Clymer said the cost provided by the company may be higher than what the city pays now for the on-going maintenance of the tower.

During the council meeting, Dugger said it cost North Platte around $900,000 to paint a city water tower.

Dugger also showed slides of Gothenburg’s tower, during an inspection he performed, which show mold and mildew on the bowl of the tower, corrosion, coating problems and more.

The tower is in good shape structurally, he said, but needs a new over coat.

Cities close to Gothenburg that have worked with Utility Service Co. include Cozad, Lexington and Brady, he said.

Clymer said some professionals and city officials say it’s less expensive for cities to bid out the work.

However he said he likes the warranty offered by Utility Service, especially if a problem arises.

Council members told Duggar they need time to digest the information.

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