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Airport work

Contractors work on repaving of the Waverly Airport runway in this May 25, 2016, photo. The Waverly City Council entered into a grant agreement with the Iowa Department of Transportation.

The Waverly City Council approved a grant agreement with the Iowa Department of Transportation to help defray most of the costs of removing trees and buildings from two adjacent properties to the Waverly Municipal Airport.

Additionally, the council also OK’d agreements with McClure Engineering for project design and administration services for the removal and with Impact7G for asbestos removal. The total cost of the project is estimated at $174,150, of which the state would pay back $148,027.

At-Large Councilwoman Edith Waldstein asked how the state money the city will receive for this project meshes with any grants accumulated from the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA is reimbursing the city 90% of costs for the runway expansion project, while the DOT is paying back 85%.

“So, would this have been eligible under (FAA), or why did we go this route in terms of getting the state money, or is it on top of the… Well, it can’t be on top of (federal money),” Waldstein pondered.

City Engineer Mike Cherry said speed was the main factor in getting state funds.

“There’s also with federal projects and contracts, you anticipate paying a little bit more to complete the same work as well,” Cherry said, “because of all of the additional hoops that you have to jump through to comply with the documentation, the paperwork and those things.”

Waldstein asked if the same red tape is applied at the state level. Cherry said there isn’t.

“I think this is a good example that the State of Iowa, when it comes to doing federal-aid projects, street projects, for instance Business 218 North project that we’re doing next summer, we’re using what’s referred to as ‘swap funds,’” Cherry said.

“They’re taking the federal dollars, and they’re going to use them on their own projects, and they’re going to give a one-for-one exchange with state money to be used on that project. Why do they do that? Because they do lots and lots of projects that have federal aid money in them, so they’re very accustomed to the paperwork and the process and procedures that are required.”

Cherry continued that when it comes to the local level, sometimes cities will have one project every three years, because funding does not keep up.

“For us to do a federal-aid project with federal dollars, there’s a learning curve involved for us as well as the contractors or consultants that may be putting together that project,” he said. “The state has said, ‘We’ll take the federal dollars and replace it with state dollars, because the process will be more efficient and cost-effective for the local jurisdictions.”

He added that the cost of the projects is cheaper by about 10-15% because of the lesser amounts of paperwork to be done at the state level rather than the federal level.

The obstructions being removed are a house and some trees from a lot to the west of the runway that was once owned by CLAN Properties LLC, the family of the late Dean Miller, as well as structures and trees from the Schmitt property to the north.

The design work is expected to take place sometime this fall, with bidding to take place in the winter and the construction window in the spring.

At-Large Councilwoman Ann Rathe asked how the FAA funds get paid to the city for the runway expansion project, which is expected to be completed next summer. Cherry said the city gets partial payments throughout the project length.

“As the work progresses, we are submitting requests for reimbursements,” he said, “so we make the initial payment to the contractor. We then submit a request for reimbursement from the FAA.

“We don’t get the money up front, but the good news is that we don’t have to fully complete the project before we start getting reimbursements.”