2017-03-16 / Front Page

Council votes to raise processing fee by four percent for county water use

The Lincolnton City Council voted to adopt a new water process­ing fee of $1.97 per thousand gallons for county water use. This was a slight increase (just over four per­cent) from last year’s rate of $1.89 per thousand, and was created after council reviewed estimates for this year’s water plant expenses.

Furthermore, engineer Kenny Green discussed last year’s water plant expenses with council, explain­ing that the process for calculating the new county water rate was also based on last year’s expenses for the plant. The county, likewise, has projected that it will use somewhere between 60-70 thousand gallons of water, which has also been taken into consideration for the set rate.

“So we do a review, and at the first of the year we consider the county rate and if it needs to be adjusted, and give you a review of how the expenditures turned out,” Green said. “The total expenses for the year are very close to where we had projected the expenses for last year, but there were a few things that were different – most notably Lincoln County used considerably more water than we had anticipated.”

According to Green, Lincoln County used 92 million gallons of water – well exceeding the original projection for 2016 of 68 million gallons of water – which ended up being over a 40 percent increase.

The reason for this usage, Green continued, stemmed from several wells that were out of production, which caused the county to buy more water from the city. He noted that this information was confirmed by Public Works Director Roby Seymour.

Because of this excess, Green explained that the city has received “excess revenue” due to the infla­tion, and has collected $22,203.98, which needs to be reimbursed to the county.

“What that means is that we set a rate for 2016 assuming that they’d use this much water, but they used 43 percent more, so that means the city collected excess revenue from the county,” Green said.

In further discussion, Green also reviewed contracted services from last year, labor costs, and an overall personnel cost, noting that it in­creased by only five percent.

Regarding purchase contract services, Green said, “there were three items that were not on pre­vious years that we added to this year’s analysis and these are water plant expenses that were paid for elsewhere.”

He explained that monies were used for water tank maintenance, including that that expense does not affect the county’s rate, and also pointed out that there was a transfer of monies into the general fund of $8,616.78 to cover administrative costs at the water plant. Those funds should be reimbursed from the water fund account back into the general fund account, Green said.

Grounds maintenance at the plant costs $3,850 annually – included as an expense to the water plant – and was also paid out of the general fund. Green likewise suggested that council reimburse the general fund from the water fund for this cost.

Conversation regarding the review came to a close as Green noted that there were increases in personnel, travel, and educational expenses; that $8,000 was added to the equip­ment repair budget in order to pay for a generator transfer switch; that chemical and electrical costs are decreasing; and that overall total operating expenses are estimated to increase by 3.1 percent.

In other business, council voted for Mayor Henry Brown and Clerk Martha Jo Austin to sign a resolution for a loan from Farmers State Bank for the financing of the wastewater plant expansion.

Local Maintenance Improvement Grant (LMIG) bids were received for certain repairs on Morning Side Drive. Council voted to award a contract to the lowest bidder, Ash­land Contractors, for $40,644.92, which will cover pipe replacements, re-grassing the area, and other main­tenance.

Council voted to sign an inter­governmental agreement with the Lincoln County Government for election services.

Additionally, Councilman Larry Goolsby asked that council look over a meter service proposal from Georgia Power Company, to be re­viewed at next month’s meeting.

“It’s a very good service, and it’s actually coming to this [means of operation] down the road” Goolsby said. “They can read all of our meters at the click of a mouse so to speak, so this is something we need to look at.

“They read them with such accu­racy, plus the monitoring, and they give you a broad range of things you can do,” Goolsby said. “But we still have to do our own billing.”

In a water department report, Adam Minyard stated that through­out the month of February the plant produced 10.1 million gallons of water, as well as received two inches of rainfall; the small basin was drained and cleaned; fuel tanks were filled for the generator at the plant and at the raw water station; nine meters were turned off on the cut off list; and the department repaired a service line on the McCormick Highway.

Ben Alligood reported that the wastewater department had an approximate influent of 476,000 gallons; a city influent of approxi­mately 6.6 million gallons; a treated effluent/discharge of approximately 7,117,100 gallons; that there were zero tons of solids disposed; and that the plant accumulated 2.125 inches of rainfall over the month of February.

Building and Code Enforcement Official Jim Farrand reported that seven building permits were issued over the past month for $422; there were five inspections on building permits; one plat approval; 31 meet­ings with property owners; three complaints or related issues; and three violations.

In a police department report, Chief Brandon Lively noted that 312 calls were answered over the month of February, including 17 incident reports, 29 miscellaneous calls, eight accident reports, along with nine citations, and 48 warnings.

Furthermore, the chief said “we are currently operating on a four- man department, with a working chief.

“We have coordinated with Geor­gia Power in reference to the light that’s to be placed at the end of East Lincoln Street,” he continued, “and we were advised that we would receive a call from them as soon as they can get to it.”

Lively also reported that he has received a quote from GT Distribu­tors regarding the trading of four department duty weapons for new, updated models with night sights. “The total amount left to pay on the new weapons after the trade will be taken out of the calendar fundraiser, which should cover 100 percent of the cost,” he said.

Chief Matt Ivey reported that the Lincolnton Fire Department responded to two fire alarms over the month of February. One was a false alarm, while the other was for a structure fire at the board of education office.

He noted that H&H Industrial has completed the repairs to the roll- up doors at the station; as well as reported that the Ladder Two truck had a leak on the tank fill line that was repaired by M/M Fire Appara­tus; that he ordered a replacement battery for the department’s ther­mal imaging camera for $155; and reported that he has applied for four straight grants, that will not require matching funds from the city.

Mayor Brown informed council that Greg Keener will take over the street department – being contracted with the city – and that the current personnel will still keep their jobs, and Keener will simply oversee the department.

The next meeting of the Lincoln­ton City Council will be held at City Hall on Tuesday, April 4, at 7 p.m.

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