City needs additional $11 million to complete Water Pollution Control Plant expansion

City Council
Goldener talks about plant expansion

PICKENS COUNTY, Ga. — After receiving bids for the Water Pollution Control Plant expansion and sewerage system improvements project, the Jasper City Council approved the redistribution of ARPA funding and a reapplication for additional USDA funding. The unexpectedly high bids left the city over $11,000,000 short of the total funding necessary to complete the projects, according to Assistant City Manager Kim Goldener.

Assistant City Manager Kim Goldener discussed bids received for the WPCP expansion and a sewerage system improvements project. “Unfortunately, the bids came back significantly higher than, I think, anyone was anticipating,” Goldener told the council, “but these are needed. It’s a needed project. We must do this work.” She read the low bids for the plant expansion and sewer system improvements project that totaled $14,051,781.52 and $3,197,632, respectively.

While the city will enter renegotiations on the sewer system improvements project, Goldener said “we do need to go to USDA, though, and ask for additional funding.” She explained that the current funding the city has received, whether in grants or loans, is over $11,000,000 short of the necessary funding to complete the project. Goldener did say, however, that number will decrease after the city’s redistribution of ARPA funding.

In an earlier discussion, City Manager Sonia Jammes explained to the council that the city was set to receive $1,484,036 from The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that was passed in 2021. She further explained that the city would receive the funding in two portions, with the first, totaling $742,018, being received in October 1, 2021. Jammes said the initial funding was originally approved for an automated metering project, but the council had decided to designate metering as a service. Because the ARPA money is no longer set to be used for the project, the council voted to redistribute it towards the upcoming Water Pollution Control Plant (WPCP) expansion.

The city will also reapply for additional funding from the Department of Agriculture, Goldener said, before interest rates are set to increase on July 1, 2022. She explained that additional funding received by the USDA is typically provided as a loan, but added the USDA has said “they will look at what additional amount, if any, could possibly be given as grants, because they know that this additional amount will be a burden.” The city council approved both the tentative award of contracts for the WPCP expansion and sewerage system improvement project, as well as the resolution allowing the reapplication.

Other Business

During the June 6 meeting, Assistant Police Chief Mike Davis was sworn in by Police Chief Matt Dawkins. Chief Dawkins then introduced the new Assistant Chief to the council, calling him a great addition to the City of Jasper. Dawkins also noted that Davis has 21 years of experience in law enforcement and has worked with both East Ellijay and Fannin County. The council also oversaw the recognition of Greg Buchanan who recently received his GED, and approved a $15,400 payment to A&S Environmental Services to explore the possibility of additional groundwater wells in the city.

Pickens Airport will receive over 1.7 million in grant funding

paramedics recognized at BOC

PICKENS, Ga. — The Pickens County Airport will receive up to $1,741,049.12 after the Board of Commissioners voted to authorize acceptance of grant funding. The board also approved a rental agreement with the intent to relocate the county’s Board of Elections office.

Discussing the funding, Chairman Kris Stancil said, “The grant is from the Georgia Department of Transportation Aviation and the FFA in order to do runway crack seals, replace the windsock, relocate beacon, relocate and replace the AWOS system, terminal area site prep and paving, construct terminal building at the Pickens County Airport. I know this has been something we’ve discussed in a couple of previous meetings before, but they have sent over the official authorization in order for us to accept that grant.”

Phil Eberly, with Lead Edge Design Group, noted that “It’s supporting the amount of traffic and activity at the airport. Many of these things are bringing us into compliance with current FA criteria on items that we already have in place … that’s fantastic that we’re offered that, much more than a normal airport would get.”  Chairman Stancil also noted the amount of money listed on the agreement, “The maximum amount the department shall be obligated to pay is $1,741,049.12.”

The grant funding approved at the Feb. 17 meeting comes after the board approved another grant agreement from American Rescue Plan funding through the Georgia Department of Transportation last month. During the Jan. 20, 2022 meeting, Chairman Stancil explained “They [GDOT] took a portion of the funds that were brought in from the federal government. I think statewide they had $3,458,000 to distribute out amongst local airports for different maintenance projects.” The Pickens County Airport received a $32,000 share of that funding.

The board also approved a rental agreement with the Georgia State Properties Commission. Chairman Stancil explained that the county had been in discussions with the Georgia State Patrol about a property located at 3100 Camp Rd: “We were able to renegotiate a new lease agreement with the Department of Public Safety along with the State Properties Commission to allow the county to have access to the portion of the property.” Stancil noted that not all of the building was being utilized, “The total square foot of the building is about 8500. This would then change the amount that the Georgia State Patrol would occupy to 6230, and then the remaining would come to the county. He explained that the purpose of access to the building is to move the Board of Elections office into the new space, saying it would allow more accessibility to residents. Chairman Stancil said he was “very thankful that we’ve had … the engagement, working back and forth with the State Patrol.” The rental agreement will create a 10 year lease on the property.

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