Albany City Council hears project updates, reports from department heads during July meeting

Posted July 12, 2022 at 12:55 pm

Albany City Council held its regular monthly meeting last Tuesday, July 5 with five of six council members on hand for the relatively short business session.

Monarch Engineer David Bowles first gave a short update on some ongoing water upgrade projects.

Bowles told the council that officials had contacted engineers wanting more information on the Duvall Valley water project, saying he hoped that was a positive sign that the project would be moving forward more quickly.

The engineer also noted the contractor had been hired on the water treatment plant repair project, but as is the case nationwide, some major materials may not be available for a year.

He also told the council that the city would soon know where they are ranked–for possible grant funding–on the proposed bypass water line project, adding the city had other avenues of funding the project as well.

Councilwoman Tonya Thrasher then asked about the COVID relief, or ARPA incentive pay for employees and how the process will work, and asked “Where are we at on it?”

The process was somewhat explained at the June meeting that employees who worked through a certain time frame during the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible for the incentive from the American Rescue Plan Act.

It also includes variables on how the funds can be used for the incentives for employees, since the primary use for the ARPA funds are for such areas as infrastructure.

Apparently the city still does not know if any of the total funds received can be used to help fund the purchase of a fire truck, but last month, the council voted to give city employees an across the board $2,500 incentive for those who had worked during the COVID pandemic.

Thrasher, who is not seeking reelection to the council this year, also recommended the city host a bicycle derby for children next July 4 (2023) around the square.

Although she said she would not be on the council, she said she would volunteer to help organize such an event.

Assistant Albany Police Chief Wayne Glover and other city employees that were present for last week’s meeting, then thanked the council for voting to give employees who worked through the COVID-19 pandemic the pay incentives the council voted on in June.

Water Department update

The council then heard some department head reports, beginning with water department supervisor Kenneth Delk, who started out by saying “A lot of water is being used (due to the excessive heat), but we’re holding our own.”

He continued that water leaks do pop up every day, and when asked by one council member, estimated about a 30 percent water loss overall. “(Water) lines are just worn out,” said Delk.

Delk also said he believed a lot of water being produced by the city is “being stolen” and gave one example in one area in the eastern part of the county where a suspicious water pressure issue may have been the result of water theft.

He said there are a lot of variables in figuring out why water is lost and it is hard to know exact amounts of loss, but did say the addition of new master meters had helped somewhat.

Eric Smith also gave an update on repairs that had been done and are still needed to the lift stations in the city.

An employee who works in the water department office also gave an update on the new billing system, reporting about $32,000 of water bills were now being paid via credit card payments taken in monthly.

It was noted if the billing system could go online, it could really help in bill collections at the water department.

Councilwoman Thrasher then began a discussion about a water leak protection program, saying she had been approached by a representative of such a company.

Apparently the company offers an insurance type program that helps protect customers from being out-of-pocket due to water leaks, with an extra fee for repairing leaks.

Jonathan Phillips, a water department employee, said he had heard about the water leak protection program in which Thrasher had mentioned and said some companies were located in Tennessee.

Apparently people who sign up for the plan have the option to “opt out” if they chose.

The council decided the program was worth looking into and having a representative from such a water protection program company to make a presentation at a future council meeting.

The council then voted unanimously, via a resolution, to authorize Mayor Lyle Pierce to sign any documentation pertaining to the city’s proposed fire truck vehicle purchase.

Councilwoman Sarah Wilson-Browning, who is also a member of the Clinton County Fair Board, then thanked the fire department, police department and local EMS for working and being on stand-by during the most recent 2022 Clinton County Fair.

The approximate 20 minute meeting was then adjourned.

The next regular meeting of Albany City Council is scheduled for Tuesday, August 2 at 5 p.m. at Albany City Hall and is open to the public.