Water Tower Paint Project Approved by Rector Council

Thursday, December 8, 2016

After months of deliberation, the Rector City Council finally decided on a course of action concerning a proposed major water system project. At Monday's monthly meeting, the council voted to address only the painting project of the existing water tower as opposed to the complete water system renovation which had been considered.

One of the two guest speakers at the four and one-half hour meeting was Bob Summers of Horner and Shifrin, the engineering consultants hired earlier this year. Summers wanted to address the concerns expressed by the council at its last special session, and to answer any questions. He told the council once more the Rural Development grant/loan package at 1.5 percent is the best offer available. He indicated the firm did contact other financial resources, but interest rates were much higher. At the 1.5 percent rate, the monthly loan payment would be about $9,147 over 40 years. He noted a commercial loan for $500,000 for just painting the water tower would run $5,300 per month over 10 years with an interest rate of five percent.

Summers then spoke of the need for a second tower. He said it would be functioning while the original tower is disengaged for painting and repair due to the fact that, if there were no complications, the original tower would be nonfunctional for at least one and a half months. He also noted with just one tower, the fire department might have difficulties as well.

Council members all agreed that with such a debt to repay, and with a declining population as many small towns are experiencing, the loan would place a heavier burden on the remaining residents.

Summers also pointed out, without a sound infrastructure in place, it would be harder to attract future business development. He reminded the council the only immediate outlay would be the $26,500 for the preliminary engineering report. This would be presented to Rural Development for final approval, at which time a contract for the funding package would be secured. He told the members he was leaving the necessary contracts to initiate the funding process but the members must decide quickly, as the time was running out for Rural Development's April, 2017 deadline. He added, if the council wanted to just paint the tower (the original bid); the project could be completed by next summer.

Late in the meeting alderman Lark Sigsby offered a motion to undertake the water system's renovation. But, no second was offered by the other members and the motion died. In turn, another motion was made to secure funding for the original bid on painting and repair of the city's water tower. That measure was approved.

The issue of the impact the project will have on local service was not discussed further, but had been broached at an earlier gathering. At the time council members were told the city should be able to maintain service during the period the tower will be under repair.

Also on the agenda was Ken Hopper of Survivor Flight, an air ambulance service headquartered in Batesville. Hopper offered the city service for employees and council members during work hours for $10 each annually. Also offered is an individual family plan for $40 annually with 24/7 coverage. The closest base site is in Kennett, and flights will take the emergency victim to the nearest hospital or the hospital needed for appropriate immediate care. Survivor Flight operates in Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Illinois.

Later in the meeting, the council voted to provide the employees with this benefit as well as the opportunity to independently enroll their families if they choose.

Further business included wording for a mowing bid proposal. The due date was changed from 5 p.m. on Dec. 29, to 5 p.m. on Jan. 3. The ad for the bid proposal will be placed in two newspapers and on the city's website.

Monthly reports were presented from the various departments. Of note was $3,310.88 profit last month for the Water Department, which is rare, and $1,244.39 from the recent holiday craft fair at the Community Center.

The council also discussed various line items presented on the 2017 budget. Kim Romine, administrative assistant, answered questions from the members, and some adjustments were made. She will be correcting various item figures and providing the council with the updated version, as they're scheduled to discuss the budget again at the January meeting.

Council members will hold the first meeting of the new year on Tuesday, Jan. 3, rather than Monday, Jan. 2, due to the fact it is a holiday for city employees.

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