Macon council committees Tuesday agreed to let Macon Water Authority oversee stormwater improvement projects to be paid for with $7 million in sales tax money, and approved a $15,000 landfill planning contract. But council members also tabled a long-standing state request for the city to take over maintenance and liability on state roads -- including interstates -- in Macon, and defeated outright a proposal to spend $600,000 on a new radio shop.
The resolution to let the water authority serve as city agent for stormwater project design, bidding and construction came up back in August, but was tabled when council members said the task should be thrown open to bids from private firms.
On Tuesday the Public Works & Engineering Committee passed it 3-0 with little discussion, with members Tom Ellington and Henry Ficklin absent.
The special purpose local option sales tax voters approved in November 2011 includes $7 million for stormwater work in the city. Administration officials said the water authority would charge only its actual cost for the oversight work, less than one-tenth of one percent of the SPLOST funding. Private firms would probably charge 5 to 7 percent of the SPLOST amount, according to a Sept. 21 memo from interim Chief Administrative Officer Dale Walker. Tony Rojas, water authority executive director, said the agency was willing to do the work at cost as a service to the city instead of making a profit, but for that reason wouldnt spend its efforts competing with private firms in a bidding process.
Previously, council members said they wanted to increase chances of minority-owned firms getting some of the contracts. The revised version includes specific language guaranteeing the encouragement of minority bids, according to Assistant City Attorney Stuart Morelli.
A $15,000 contract for engineering firm Hulsey McCormick & Wallace to come up with a landfill closure plan, assess the current solid waste program, recommend how to deal with methane gas that the landfill emits, and recommend a recycling strategy, cleared the committee 3-0.
Waste management will be the new governments responsibility in less than a year, but those officials will need answers to the same questions Macon does, Walker said. The work should be done in six months.
State road maintenance
The committee tabled a resolution for the city to take over maintaining almost 61 miles of road, including nearly 14 miles of interstate.
The proposed contract, first discussed in October, would pay the city $212,000 per year for doing all maintenance work on the roads, but would also hold the city liable for the roads condition.
Councilman Rick Hutto particularly objected to assuming liability for the roads condition, and said he didnt know if the city wanted to enter any agreement with a new consolidated government taking over in less than a year.
Interim City Attorney Judd Drake said city officials met with Bibb County and state representatives on Dec. 1 to discuss the proposal. The city asked about scaling back the agreement so the city was only responsible for mowing and cleaning rights-of-way, with a corresponding drop in reimbursement.
Drake said theyre still waiting for a state reply on scaling back the city responsibility. The committee voted 3-0 to table the contract until a response arrives.
The Public Properties Committee unanimously rejected a resolution which would allow construction of a new city radio shop.
The current shop is in the Central Services building, which by the end of March is supposed to be abandoned to make way for a major redevelopment project. The administration proposes to build a new one on 1.19 acres next to the new Central Services site at 1000 Seventh St., at a cost of $600,000.
After much debate, council bought the new Central Services building for $672,500. Renovation is expected to cost about $400,000, well below the estimate of $1.5 million to build a new building.
But when the radio shop plan came up Dec. 17, council members accused the administration of deceiving them about the cost of the Central Services move.
Administration officials replied that the radio shop, though housed with Central Services, has been under Information Technologys authority for several years. The proposed radio shop is in that departments capital plan and the citys overall budget, which council approved in late June.
To build the new building the city would borrow money from the Georgia Municipal Association, Walker said.
Hutto said he didnt want to obligate the new consolidated government to 10 years of repayment; he and other council members argued that the incoming government may want to do something entirely different.
Until new officials make that decision, Hutto said, the radio shop offices can be housed in Terminal Station and installation work can be done in the new Central Services building.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.