County OKs utility items: ARPA water funding in the works

·3 min read

Sep. 12—VALDOSTA — All utility and public service-related items on a recent agenda of the Lowndes County Commission were approved.

The county approved: — Replacement of older radios for the utilities department. The radios currently in service in the utilities department have reached end of life, city officials said, and have not been supported by Motorola since 2018, making the units obsolete. According to county officials, the utilities department proposed to replace these radios now rather than wait until they fail completely, leaving them without communication capabilities.

Staff received a quote in the amount of $64,160.45 to replace all 22 radios currently in service, including the radio, charger, spare battery and programming by the radio shop for each unit.

Steve Stalvey, utilities director, told the commissioners the quote provided a significant volume discount over replacing the radios one at a time.

The item was included, and approved, in the county's Fiscal Year 2022 budget. — A bid to begin the county's manhole improvement project. Lowndes County was awarded a Georgia Environmental Finance Authority loan for lift station and manhole improvements.

Staff identified approximately 100 manholes that need rehab and improvements, including structural repairs and coating the interiors.

Two bids were received, one from Gulf Coast Underground for $1,508,450 and one from RPI, Inc. for $439,836.

Staff recommended going with RPI, Inc., and the county authorized Lowndes County Commission Chairman Bill Slaughter to enter into a contract. — A South Lowndes utilities building expansion project. The utilities department is in need of additional shop space at the land application system.

With the current inventory of pumps, bypass pumps and generators, the department does not have adequate space to store the items out of the weather and it needs to be able to park a vac-truck inside, county officials confirmed.

Crews Engineering designed an addition to the current shop that will provide room for storage and preventative maintenance. The project was advertised and bids were received from Quillian Powell Construction for $449,000 and Kellerman Construction for $386,167.

Staff recommended approval to authorize Slaughter to sign the contract with Kellerman Construction for $386,167. — A new addition to the QPublic Appeals Module. Lowndes County currently utilizes QPublic and has for years.

QPublic is an interactive public access tool that allows users to view county and city information, public records and Geographic Information Systems, via an online portal. The new addition will allow the public to research and submit an appeal electronically. Budget Impact / Payment Schedule:

Year 1: Sept. 1 through June 30, 2023

$10,776 remaining balance

(Setup: $4,416 plus hosting: $14,320 (prorated) = $18,736.

Less $7,960 previously invoiced for Sept. 1, through June 30, 2023.

Year 2: July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2024

$17,532.

Year 3: July 1, 2024 through June 30, 2025

$17,880.

Lowndes County Manager Paige Dukes noted in her report that the county's mid-year retreat is scheduled for Nov. 18 and will be held in the commissioner's offices. Slaughter will coordinate with staff in the future on agenda items for the meeting.

Dukes also confirmed that staff and Slaughter received an email about a second round of American Rescue Plan funding for water projects. She said the county has several projects included in it, such as a 20,000-gallon hydro tank and new water filtration plants.

She said $400,000,000 in funding is available at the state level, and while the county can't confirm which projects will be funded for how much at this time, it has arranged for the engineering and utilities department to work on some preliminary measures.

Stalvey gave an update on the county's sinkhole projects and the sewer line issues on Gulf Drive. He speculated the problem was lining damage on old pipes.

A contractor and staff determined the best course of action would be to start a slipping process and a quote for that project will be determined at a later date.