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City Council looks at Bullhook project, sets informational special improvement district meeting


October 22, 2019

Havre Public Works Director Dave Peterson told Havre City Council Monday that this part of the Bullhook Storm Drain Project has moved into its final phase and hopefully, depending on the weather conditions, will be completed within the next two to three weeks.

“This takes care of the critical portion,” he said.

In October 2013, sections of streets and sidewalks over the drainage began collapsing. One of the first was a 10-foot by-4-foot section of the street near Taco Treat on the 500 Block of Third Street, which collapsed Oct. 4, 2013, leaving a large hole in the street and requiring the street to be blocked off by sawhorses.

Bullhook starts at Saddle Butte southwest of Havre and runs into the city near Havre High School on the south edge of Havre then meanders through the city to the Milk River. Most of the drainage system has been covered by streets and buildings and dirt work over the last century, although a few spots are still exposed.

The city originally awarded the project contract to Kincaid Civil Construction out of Mesa, Arizona.

Peterson said the project was originally set to start in September of 2016 and was scheduled to be completed in January of 2017.

Kincaid did not meet the deadline for the project and the city went into negotiations with the company about the contract, entering arbitration with Kincaid in the spring of 2018. The arbitration came back in favor of the city. The city is working with Kincaid’s bonding company to receive the money it paid to Kincaid to finish financing the project.

In June of this year, the council approved awarding Havre’s Lakeside Excavations Inc. the contract to complete the Bullhook Storm Drain Project.

Peterson said Lakeside Excavation has some additional work to take care of due to some previous issues that Kincaid had in the past. He added that the city is still working with the bonding company representing Kincaid. An engineer the bonding company hired to look at the project recently sent information to the city attorney, who in turn sent that to the bonding company’s consultant.

“Hopefully, as soon as they get that information, they will be able to make a determination on their dollar amount, and, hopefully, it meets the dollar amount that we need to finish the project,” he said.

The City Council passed a resolution to request funding in case that amount does not come in.

Mayor Tim Solomon said that the resolution is not to pay for any current cost overruns, but is a preventative measure so the city would be able to complete the project.

“It’s in case we need money to finish the project,” he said. “It kind of depends on where it is and what we settle with the bonding company.

“We can approve it and not take it if we don’t need the money,” he added. “But it’s to ensure we have the finding needed to finish the project.”

City Clerk and Finance Director Doug Kaercher said that the resolution is the first step in applying for a bond from the state revolving fund. He added that it is a 20-year bond.

Solomon said that next Wednesday, Oct. 30, the city will be hosting an educational session about special improvement districts at 6 p.m. at Havre City Hall.

Solomon said that Montana State University Extension Local Government Center Director Dan Clark will be in Havre to share information and answer questions on using SIDs to repair roads and infrastructure.

SIDs are created when residents of an area propose creating an entity — a neighborhood or specific region in a town or city — to implement repairs, upgrades or improvements, such as streets, curbs, gutters and so on, and then if the majority of residents concur, the city creates the district. Bonds generally are sold to finance the work, and residents of the district are assessed a fee to make the bond payments.

Council member Lindsey Ratliff said that it will be a great event for people to attend if they are interested in fixing the streets and infrastructure in Havre.

“It’s a great opportunity for anyone who wants to learn more about how the streets can be fixed in their neighborhoods,” she said. “If you can’t show up, talk to the city.”

Solomon said that SIDs are not only for streets, but are capable of funding much-needed infrastructure repairs.

“It definitely covers it all,” he said.

The City Council also passed an ordinance amending the city’s qualifications for firefighters within Havre City Code Annotated.

Council member and Ordinance Committee Chair Caleb Hutchins said Havre Fire Chief Mel Paulson informed the ordinance committee the city’s code had an issue regarding the hiring process for firefighters. Hutchins added that under city code, firefighters have three major qualifications, applicants cannot be over the age of 34, applicants have to pass a physical examination and applicants have to live within city limits unless exempted by the city. 

The new ordinance would take out the age restriction and refer to the state code, Hutchins said. He added that the state requires things, such as a physical examination and background checks, but does not have an age restriction.

He said having an age restriction both limits the pool of applicants for the fire department and may have some legal issues, relating to age descrimination.

“By referring to the state’s code we don’t have to worry about keeping that up to date,” he said, adding that the state already keeps its qualifications up to date. 

Hutchins said the Ordinance Committee will also be looking at something similar for Havre Police Department in the future.

The City Council set the next Ordinance Committee meeting for Nov. 18, following the regular council meeting.

The council also approved a request from Havre Art Association to place a sign on city property to advertise the association’s annual Art Show Nov. 2-3.

Solomon said that the council approves the association’s request every year and the association will most likely start advertising next week, at least seven days before the show.


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