Estimate to get sewer under I-65 tops $457,132
City agrees to foot bill if utilities will end commercial impact fees
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
A consulting engineer's estimate of the cost to extend a sewer main under I-65 at the Highway 36 exchange fell to the tune of $457,132 at a joint work session of the Hartselle City Council and Hartselle Utilities Board Monday night.
That's not all.
Bores and encasements for water and gas lines were not included in the price. If added, they could bring the cost of the proposed project to $627,132.
After an attempt to get HU to pick up part of the cost failed, the council agreed to foot the entire bill if HU would agree to discontinue charging impact fees for commercial development. HU board members indicated they would be willing to enter into such an agreement if it can be done legally.
As far as removing the impact fees is concerned, HU General Manager Ferrell Vest said equity between classes of customers -residential, commercial and industrial-has to be maintained.
"There is a legal issue here," he pointed out. "To do anything, the board would have to go back and consider it based on the advice of our attorney."
The HU Board recently awarded a contract to install three utility encasements under I-65 at the Thompson Road interchange on a bid of $139,695.
"Why is it costing so much more to bore under I-65 at Highway 36?" asked Councilman Samie Wiley.
"It's because of a creek and wetlands," Vest responded. "After our staff visited the area and did some preliminary work we knew there was going to be some wetland issues. We had Municipal Consultants come in and do a preliminary design of the project after discussing it with the U.S. Corps of Engineers and Alabama Department of Transportation."
Project Engineer Robert Pride said alternate bore sites were looked but were discarded in favor of the recommended bore site.
After learning of the estimated cost, Council President K. T. (Kenny) Thompson asked, "How much do you figure on us paying?"
"You'd need to pay it all," Vest said. "But, of course, that's not my decision. It's up to the board."
Later in the discussion, Thompson asked the board if it would be willing to do away with impact fees on commercial development.
"I'm in favor of that but it's a matter of how far can we go with it, looking at it from a legal standpoint," board member Mike Gunter said.
"I'm willing to cooperate with the city on this but I'd want to make sure if we do it it's done right," added Board Chairman Ed Monroe.
"If we can legally do it, I'm in favor of it, too," board member Garlin Cheatham said.
Vest said HU is interested in including encasements for water and gas in the proposed project even though those utilities are currently available from other suppliers. He added that
a meeting to discuss the development potential for the east side of I-65 has been scheduled with representatives of the Northeast Morgan County Water Authority.
"If we pay all of the cost on this, would you give up all of the impact fees?" Councilman Mark Mizell asked.
"We have discussed reducing impact fees on residential development but no decisions has been made," Gunter said.
"Some of the money from impact fees is pledged to bonds," Vest pointed out.
"I think we're on the same page," said Mayor Dwight Tankersley. "Let's get our attorneys together to draft an agreement and move forward on this."