City utility projects underway


NEWBERRY — Utility projects are underway, according to Marc Regier, director for the city of Newberry’s utility department.

Regier provided City Council with a presentation Tuesday night to detail the current status of utility projects contained in the Capital Improvements Plan.

City Manager Al Harvey said council had asked for additional information pertaining to the city’s bond issuance as to when the initiation of projects would begin.

“Some are already underway and I’ve asked Marc to provide you all with a table showing the different projects,” Harvey said.

Projects included warehouse relocation, a second electric sub-station, water treatment plant repairs, removal of an asbestos pipe and a water tower on the north side of the city. Regier said other projects included water distribution repair, a water line replacement and sewer replacement on Nance Street, an 18-inch trunk line from Nance Street to Highway 34 and a 12-inch trunk line on Evans Street and a belt press replacement.

Council was given a table which included an improvement timeline to each of the times. Harvey said as projects got underway, they would be able to give a timetable of how long each contract is for because they varied.

In other new business, Mayor Foster Senn told council he and councilman Thomas Louis Boyd had attended a ceremony at Newberry College which involved representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

After having a conversation with one of the officials, Senn said they became aware that there are grant funds available through USDA for small communities to purchase equipment such as vehicles or develop other community projects.

“They’re investing a lot of money into Newberry and they said there may be some grant funds we could apply for,” Senn said.

Harvey said the city’s understanding was that they had stimulus money to give to agencies to undertake projects and that they thought multiple grants could be had.

The maximum amount, Harvey said is $50,000 and is flexible as to what the money could be used for.

Harvey’s suggestion to council was that because they were struggling with the cost of the Gallman Park project, that they apply for a $50,000 grant for that purpose.

“We already have a lot of local matching funds in that project and I think we can designate that as matching funds for the grant,” Harvey said.

The original budget for the Gallman Park project approved by council was $225,000. During the budget planning, council agreed to use $150,000 of economic development funds to supplement the amount of $225,000 already on hand, giving them a total of $375,000 for the project.

Earlier this month, council said that after bids were open, the lowest bid for the project came in at $419,403.16 and was for site preparation and other parts of the project.

A grant gave the city $100,000 of the original $225,000 budget, but Harvey said staff had been working to stay within the budget.

Scott Sawyer, director of Parks, Recreation and Tourism for the city said he believed they could trim things to get it within the budget, they had not yet to meet yet to see what could be trimmed and negotiated.

At the suggestion of councilman LeMont Glasgow earlier this month, Sawyer said they may also look at the city doing parts of the renovation in-house to cut back on contracting costs.

Under old business, second reading was passed of an ordinance to adopt the budget and levy taxes for the fiscal year 2015-2016.

Council also passed second reading of an ordinance Tuesday removing the debt service reserve fund and approving all required documentation association with making that change.

Because the city has received an A- and A3 rating from the Standard and Poors and Moody’s, the reserve fund required for the 2009 SRF bond is no longer mandatory.

In other updates, at the city’s June 9 regular council meeting, there was a discussion of mutual aid agreements during executive session. The agreement was signed and executed to the respective agencies by Roy McClurkin with the Newberry Police Department as appointed by council. The Newberry County Sheriff’s Department upon reading the final version requested for some minor changes in the wording. Senn said the changes were reviewed by the city attorney and a revised agreement was approved Tuesday.

City Council’s next meeting will be on July 14 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.