Ham Lake approves increased engineering billing rates

After four years of flat rates, the Ham Lake City Council Aug. 6 unanimously approved increases in the city engineering contract.

Ham Lake contracts with a company in its own back yard — RFC Engineering. The lead engineer that attends all regular council meetings is Tom Collins. Also working in the RFC office is Dave Krugler, Andrew Lutaya and Beth Palo. Like Collins, Krugler and Lutaya are also professional engineers. Palo is the office manager and accountant.

The council approved a 3 percent increase in August 2008. Since then, the billing rates have not increased. Collins’ billing rate is going from $107.73 to $109.89 an hour. Krugler’s rate is going from $75.09 to $80.65 an hour. The hourly billing rate for Lutaya will have the highest percentage jump from 16.2 percent from $61.45 to $71.42. Palo’s rate will go from $43.20 to $44.93 an hour.

It should be noted that these are billing rates and not wages. These four RFC employees earn less than this, but their hourly wages are multiplied by 2.7 and these amounts are the hourly rates charged to the city.

Although there will be increased rates, Collins noted that overall billing should decrease because RFC Engineering has fewer employees. There used to be seven at one time.

“Tom (Collins) provides a good service to the city at a fair price,” Councilmember Gary Kirkeide said.

Revenue for paying engineering fees can come from Municipal State Aid gas tax money distributed by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), fees charged to developers and the general Ham Lake tax base.

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com