Jun. 27—Aiken officials are considering use of federal coronavirus relief money to help pay for the massive Hitchcock Woods stormwater project, documents show, after bids came in millions of dollars above projections.
City staff has proposed spending up to $1.75 million of the city's American Rescue Plan allocation on the long-awaited project, which is meant to better protect the woods from devastating volumes of stormwater.
The lowest bid, from Thalle Construction of North Carolina, came in at $15.4 million; a civil engineering firm consulted by the city, McCormick Taylor, recommended moving forward with it. The highest bid came in at nearly $21 million.
In a memo to Aiken City Council, City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh said the "balance of the excess cost would come from federal American Rescue Plan funds with the remaining amount funded with hospitality tax, which would encumber $90,000 a year from the fund as part of our" state revolving fund loan.
It is up to City Council to select a vendor and appropriate the money. Council is scheduled to review bids and discuss the Hitchcock Woods stormwater project at its Monday work session and regular meeting, 5:45 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively.
The coronavirus recovery funds can be used to respond to the pandemic by offsetting economic losses, supporting public health expenditures and investing in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure, according to federal spending guidelines.
The city is slated to receive a total $4.3 million in relief funds. The city has received half of that sum already.
"We have this money available, we have that portion of the cash on hand," Bedenbaugh said Friday, "and that is a viable option," should City Council consider it.
Work on the Hitchcock Woods stormwater project is anticipated to begin in fiscal year 2021-22.