County declines to sign long-term contract with airport consultants

By Charlie Warner
Argus News Editor

Figuring they might be able to save some money, the Houston County Board decided not to enter into a long-term contract with Mead & Hunt to serve as their airport consultants.

Highway Engineer Brian Pogodzinski brought a request to the board during the March 13 meeting to approve the contract. He explained that in order to continue receiving the annual aviation funds from the FAA, the county had to have a consulting firm in place.

Pogodzinski continued that he, commissioners Jack Miller and Justin Zmyewski and EDA Director Justin Wilms went through a grading system with Mead & Hunt and TKDA Consultants, which were the two companies that submitted consulting bids to the county.

Pogodzinski said Mead & Hunt has been very good with the day to day issues that come up, have served as the airport consultants for a number of years and have a good grasp on the current situation at the airport.

Pogodzinski added that the county has also had good working relationships with TKDA, as that firm has conducted a number of bridge inspections.

“They are both very good companies,” Pogodzinski said. “But because Mead & Hunt has been our consultant for a number of years, they know our history and are up to date with our issues.”

According to the contract both the county and Mead & Hunt would have a 30-day opt out if they didn’t approve of the working arrangement.

Commissioner Steve Schuldt made a motion that was seconded by Commissioner Justin Zmyewski to approve the contract. During the ensuing discussion, Caledonia area resident Thor Kohle opined that the county had spent far too much money on the restrooms at the airport. He felt $200,000 was much too exorbitant for Houston County.

Commissioner Tom Bjerke asked if the county had to be locked in with one consultant. “Why can’t we use both companies and try to get a better price?” Bjreke asked.

Pogodzinski said that the county could do that for some of the larger projects, but felt there was still a need to have a consultant to help with some of the day to day issues.

Bjerke said he felt going that route might prompt both companies to sharpen their pencils little bit.

The board took no action on this issue, as Schuldt withdrew his motion and Zmyewski his second.

In other board action:

Buying local

Pogodzinski informed the board he contacted Ellingson Motors of Caledonia to get a bid on a new pickup for the Highway Department. Several weeks ago the county board instructed Pogodzinski to check with the local dealer instead of just going out and getting a state bid.

The local bid was $550 higher than the state bid. By law, the board is required to go with the lower bid, unless there are mitigating circumstances. Because the state bid was for a GMC and the Ellingson bid is for a Chevrolet, the county does not have to go with the low bid. No action was taken, as the board was going to research the issue farther.

Maintenance agreement

The board approved a maintenance agreement with Ziegler Cat of the Twin Cities for a twice a year inspection and service on the large diesel generator that serve the County Justice Center and Courthouse.

The original bid was for $6,320. The board felt that was too high and requested a second bid. Ziegler capitulated and cut the price to $3,430 a year.

 You can contact Charlie Warner at [email protected]