Posted on Tuesday, September 20th, 2016 at 9:34 pm.
Plans for building a new orbital activated sludge waste water treatment plant with an estimated construction cost of $12.2 million moved forward Tuesday with action by the Chapin Town Council.
Council was advised that the town’s existing treatment plant has a capacity of 1.2 million gallons per day, (which equates to approximately 4,000 taps), and has already sold more than 1,000 taps over capacity. In addition, SCDHEC has recently imposed a 35 percent load restriction, which further impacts the plant’s capacity.
Utilities Director Andy Metts said that if council were to take no action, a moratorium on sewer tap sales by the town would be necessary very soon.
Council members were in general agreement that sewer plant expansion is necessary, but they argued over whether the council should delay the permitting process by requiring that the firm which will be tasked with developing the design of the plant and overseeing construction be chosen through a bidding as required by Town Code. (The Firm of Hussey, Gay, Bell was selected from among three proposers earlier this year based on professional qualifications to prepare a preliminary engineering report.)
Mayor Skip Wilson made the motion: “That Council authorize staff to submit the Preliminary Engineering Report as drafted to the State Revolving Fund section of DHEC for review and approval. I also move that we authorize staff to complete the funding application to the SRF program for the expansion of the Waste Water Treatment Plant to 2.4 million gallons per day, with the understanding that no financial commitments will be made without Council approval.
Finally, I move that we authorize staff to negotiate a contract extension with Hussey, Gay, Bell to provide an engineering design and construction period services to expand the Town’s Waste Water Treatment Plant to 2.4 million gallons per day. The proposed contract shall be presented to Council for approval during the October 2016 Council meeting.”
Mayor pro tem Mike Clonts and Council Member Kay Hollis voted against the motion, saying that this represents the largest single expenditure of funds in which the town has been involved, and that the design, as well as the construction, should be handled through a bid process rather than by extending the contract to Hussey,Gay, Bell for engineering design and inspection services, estimated to cost $910,000.
Andy Metts said bidding out the design services might take two or three months and would delay the project beyond the time frame in which the town could apply for and receive a low interest State Revolving Fund loan.
The Mayor, and Council members Gregg White and Robbie Frick voted in favor of the motion.
Council also approved by a 3-2 vote an amendment to the Town’s Fiscal Year 2016 Utility Department Budget by allocating $400,000 in unencumbered funds from the FY 2016 Operating Budget and $500,000 from the Utility Department fund balance to be used to fund the engineering services contract for the Waste Water expansion project. Clonts and Hollis opposed the budget amendment.
Metts informed Council members that “SCDHEC has informed us that we have been included on the State Revolving Fund’s (SRF) Provisional Project List for funding by the FY 2016 Clean Water State Revolving Fund Intended Use Plan(IUP). The Town’s project was included in the IUP based on the understanding that the project is ready to proceed in State Funding Year 2017.” Submission of a permit application with plans and specifications is required by April 2017, the permit issuance before the end of July 2017 and advertisement for bids by August 2017. To remain loan-eligible, the Town must have a complete loan application in to the Office of Local Government by the end of July 2017. The “complete loan application” includes the DHEC construction permit.
In other business, Council approved a resolutin to adopt the Hazard Mitigation Plan for the Central Midlands Region.
They also discussed their thoughts on whether the town should impose a hospitality tax on businesses, a uniform tax of 2% on the gross proceeds derived from the sales of prepared meals, food, and beverages sold in or by establishments, or those licensed for on-premises consumption of alcoholic beverages, beer, or wine.
These funds must be used for tourism-related activities and improvements. Mayor Wilson favors such a tax. Council members had mixed reactions to the idea. No vote was taken.