Concerns for COVID-19 have come into play as costs for New Site’s health clinic rise. The New Site Town Council recently accepted a $757,766 bid from Alexander City contractor AAA General Contractors.

The bid is more than $104,000 over the negotiated bid from just a couple months ago. Mayor Phil Blasingame said uncertain times caused the increase in costs.

“With the coronavirus we didn’t want to wait until our next meeting,” Blasingame said. “The timing and delay still costs us. Contractors don’t know if materials will go up, if they will be able to find help and subcontractors with the fallout from the coronavirus. The effects are unknown.”

Blasingame is confident the town wasn’t cheated as a second bid from Henderson & Coker in Alexander City came nearly $10,000 more than AAA General Contractors.

“It lets me know they are playing fair,” Blasingame said. “They bid the same thing. The first time around we had a lot of discrepancy with one bid going over $900,000.”

Unlike the December bid, Blasingame said architect McKee & Associates took out site work and other things the town had negotiated out of the contract bringing the cost just three months ago to $653,557. That work is not in the new bid.

Tallapoosa County commissioner John McKelvey a few months ago helped with some in-kind work from his county crew by hauling dirt to fill in the site next to town hall and to help with site work.

Blasingame said the town approved a resolution stating it had the ability to fund the project but is still trying to figure out the exact financing details.

“There are some moving parts,” Blasingame said. “We were contacted by American Tower who owns the cell tower on town property next to town hall. They want to negotiate.” 

Currently the Town of New Site pays $1,110 per month to allow American Tower to locate a tower there. Provisions in the lease allow it to adjust the payment and beginning in April Blasingame said the town was notified the payment would be lowered to $967.63. It could go lower as the contract is renewed in a year. American Tower offered a one-time payment of $220,000 to end lease payments.

“It’s upfront and looks better than payments over time,” Blasingame said. “It would take us 18 years to get that considering the lower payment.

Blasingame said town attorney Mack Clayton is looking over the documents for the transaction and regardless of the council’s decision the property would remain the town’s.

At Monday’s council meeting councilmembers began to debate how to finance the town’s portion of the health clinic costs. The town is already receiving a $200,000 Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) grant for the clinic and because town officials didn’t follow ADECA’s timeline they had to rebid the project.

Blasingame said part of the discussion to take American Tower’s $220,000 and apply it to the clinic costs to figure out a balance of using cash the town has and a loan to finance the remaining part of the project.

“We will determine all that at the next meeting,” Blasingame said.

Blasingame said the renovations for the senior center will be up for bid next week. The next meeting of the New Site Town Council is at 5 p.m. April 6.

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.