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Published: Tuesday, 2/5/2013

Toledo council approves $1.9M for methane plant

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A majority of Toledo City Council today approved the allocation of $1.9 million for the 2013 operation of the city's offline methane “co-generation plant.”

Council voted 9-2 in favor of the contract with Solar Turbines Inc. to run and maintain the plant, located at the city's Bayview Wastewater Treatment Plant. Councilmen Rob Ludeman and Tom Waniewski voted against spending the money because of problems at the methane-burning facility that is supposed to produce electricity. Councilman Shaun Enright was not present.

The plant, which is supposed to use methane from the Hoffman Road landfill delivered via pipeline, is millions of dollars over budget and has been idle for nearly seven months because of problems in the gas-delivery system. The methane is instead being burned in a flare at the landfill.

“I think it's a great idea but almost $2 million when they can't even get the methane there,” Mr. Ludeman said. “I hope it sends a message … I want to see this work efficiently.”

Mr. Waniewski said his no vote should send a message that he is also unsatisfied with the service so far.

The $1.9 million request includes a fixed annual fee of $1.6 million for co-generation operation and maintenance services and $300,000 for related services such as spare parts, lubrication, filtration, chemical treatment, stack testing, and system modifications and programming.

The Bell administration said the methane might have stopped flowing because the collection system’s pipes could have been crushed in 2010 when dredgings from the Ottawa River were dumped at the landfill. The city also plans to spend another $1.3 million expanding the methane collection system at the landfill.

Also today:

● Council voted 11-0 to spend $560,629 from the capital improvement budget and $222,567 from the city's general fund for an Accela Automation database system.

● Council voted 11-0 to spend $7.49 million from the capital improvement budget for the 2013 Matches & Planning Program, $4.4 million for the year's general resurfacing program, $350,000 for the 2013 street seal and curb Program, $350,000 for the sidewalk program, and $75,000 for the Nautical Village Project.

● Council voted 11-0 to spend $600,000 for a new salt storage structure.

● Council voted 11-0 to spend $554,000 for bridge improvement projects.

● Council voted 11-0 to spend $100,000 toward a feasibility study and design cost of a Nelson Street embankment project.

● Council voted 11-0 to spend $450,000 for improvements to playgrounds and sport courts.

● Council voted 11-0 to spend $680,000 for marked and unmarked police vehicles.

● Council voted 11-0 to spend $150,000 for a “automated timekeeping system” for the police department.

Several councilmen questioned why the city needed the $150,000 system after the city has already spent about $16 million for a financial accounting software called SAP.

The $150,000 product comes from a different vendor, city officials said. Adding to the SAP system would cost $351,718, according to a memo from City Finance Director Patrick McLean.

Councilman George Sarantou said he would hold a finance committee on Feb. 21 regarding the SAP software.

“We may have purchased the vacuum but not all the attachments,” he said.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171.



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