Annexation plan work entering final stages

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Annexation consultants are putting the finishing touches on acity expansion plan and hope to have something for review by theboard of aldermen by Labor Day, City Attorney Joe Fernald toldofficials Tuesday.

Fernald said consultants Bridge and Slaughter are preparing afinal legal description on the latest area being considered forannexation. The attorney said they are in the process of “makingsure the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed.”

There has been little annexation discussion since the board metin March in executive session to iron out details of an annexationarea. Fernald said last night that the city board has changed itsannexation study area five times during the process.

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“Sooner or later, we’ve got to set an area and go,” Fernaldsaid.

With the Whitworth Fire Loop water project starting up andexpected to occupy city officials’ time in August, Fernald said hehoped to avoid any conflicts in scheduling a time when theannexation consultants’ work could be presented. Fernald indicatedthat something could be available by early September.

Once a plan is adopted, it would become the proposed annexationarea and there would be a public hearing on the matter, cityofficials said. Following that, the plan could be submitted tochancery court for approval and pre-clearance by the U.S.Department of Justice.

In other matters during a short board meeting Tuesday, aldermenvoted to apply for a Delta Regional Authority grant to build a newwater well south of town near Easthaven Baptist Church. RoyGeoheghan, with Southwest Planning and Development District, saidcity project options were limited with an application deadline ofJuly 26.

“It’s a real short fuse so it’s not a lot of time to dosomething,” he said.

City officials had done some preliminary work on the water wellproject, which is estimated at over $700,000.

“We need it bad…we’ve been waiting for something like this tocome along,” said Mayor Bill Godbold about the project and thegrant program.

Grant approval chances appeared questionable at best.

Geoheghan said only $4 million is available in the new grantprogram and the eligible application area covers 45 counties. Hesaid there is currently no cap on a grant amount, but stateofficials are meeting Friday and may put additional restrictions onthe program.

In an on-going garbage dilemma, Ward 4 Alderman Bob Massengillpresented a review of new commercial garbage rates and thepercentage of increase for customers. The review showed percentageincreases ranging from 13 percent to 286 percent.

Looking at the frequency of collection and type of garbagepicked up, Massengill said it appeared rates went up considerablyfor some and not so much for others. He said it is important forthe board to continue to resolve its garbage situation, which iscurrently $42,000 in the hole.

“We’ve got to reach a break-even point and we’re trying to keepfrom going to an outside service as long as we can,” Massengillsaid.

City officials have said a private company would not provide thelevel of personal service to customers that the city is able togive.

“If we get an outside company, they ain’t going to want to doright,” said Ward 3 Alderman the Rev. Jerry L. Wilson.

Also Tuesday, Fernald updated board members on the start of theWhitworth Fire Loop project.

The project, which includes installation of larger water linesto service the college and the downtown area, will required streetclosures. Fernald said the city is working with local media topublicize the contractor’s work schedule in an effort to reduceinconveniences.

“We need everybody to bear with us,” Fernald said. “They’regoing to work as fast as they can.”

In other business Tuesday:

* Dr. Russell Burns, chairman of the library’s board oftrustees, updated the board on library projects and requested$89,000 from the city in operating funds for next year. Thatrepresents a $4,000 increase over this year and is needed forincreased utility cost and children’s area staff, Burns said.

* The board approved paying $1,748 for architect MichaelBarranco’s travel expenses during a recent trip with city officialsto Washington to discuss and seek funding for the proposedMulti-Modal Facility.

“He was an important key to our going,” said Ward 1 AldermanDorsey Cameron.

* City officials will also seek to acquire one or more of theold Brookhaven High School trailers for use as temporary city barnoffice space. City officials have been concerned about thedeteriorating condition of the city barn on Willard Street.