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Flowery Branch may have this other option in addressing sewer expansion issue
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Flowery Branch City Hall - photo by Scott Rogers

Flowery Branch may scrap the budget-busting bids on a long-awaited sewer plant expansion project and pursue a new option that would involve a redesign.

City Manager Tonya Parrish is proposing an option to hire a “construction manager at risk,” or a contractor who would “work very closely with the city and the city’s engineer” in a new design and construction of the project.

Cost estimates “will be given during the design phase, and the contractor will provide a guaranteed maximum price” when the project is 80% designed, according to a city document.

That price “represents a cost threshold that the construction manager is contractually bound to honor,” according to Indeed, an online jobs site. “Should the project exceed this threshold, the construction manager, not the owner, is financially liable — hence the ‘at risk’ component of (the job title).”

The option is set to be presented to Flowery Branch City Council at its meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15.

Flowery Branch has been working since August to try to figure out next steps after learning that the lowest bid for the project was $52 million. The city, with a $23.3 budget, has a huge funding gap.

“I was floored,” Mayor Ed Asbridge said at the time.

The council directed city officials in August to stop accepting sewer applications until the future becomes clearer. “We have to slow this train, to be able to take a breath for a moment and get this figured out,” Parrish said.

Flowery Branch is growing fast, with development taking place across the city. The council has been served a steady diet of projects to consider in recent years, including large residential ones.

“For the most part, over the last two to three years, most of the (residential) growth has been high-density,” Trey Gavin, an engineer working with the city on the sewer project, told the council in August. “We’re seeing a lot of townhomes built, we’re seeing a lot of apartment complexes, and this puts more of a strain on our wastewater system.”

As for the higher project costs, he said, “We are seeing increases in costs for all materials and all equipment. Labor increases are staggering.”

Flowery Branch City Council

What: Possible vote on future of Flowery Branch sewer plant expansion project

When: 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15

Where: Flowery Branch City Hall, 5410 W. Pine St.