By Jeremy Pittari, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
Picayune’s city council heard bids on a bond from two lending institutions that will allow the city to replace aging cast-iron natural gas lines and chose the one offering the best rate.
Two lending institutions submitted bids for the projected $3 million bond to conduct the work. Duncan Williams offered the lowest rate at 2.782772 percent. Crews and Associates’ bid 3.08087 percent.
After the two bids were verified and reviewed by attorneys and City Clerk Amber Hinton, the council approved a motion to go with the Duncan Williams bid.
With only the lender sorted out, the work to replace those lines is still months away, but the council was able to get a low interest rate by going with Duncan Williams Inc., of Memphis, Tenn.
The 20-year bond will pay to remove old cast-iron natural gas lines, primarily in the area behind Picayune Memorial High School, and replace them with a type of plastic line, said City Engineer Brooks Wallace. The work is required by the state’s Public Service Commission and Wallace hopes it will help the city find any remaining lost revenues from natural gas sales due to leaks and unmetered service.
While most of the line to be replaced will be in areas behind the city high school, Wallace said there are other areas where lines will be replaced. Lines have been replaced in other parts of the city in the past.
Three million dollars is just a projected cost on the project, Wallace said. He actually expects the total cost to be less than that. An actual cost is expected to be presented to the council in the next couple of months after the work is reviewed and bids for the work are accepted.
In the replacement, the old lines will be purged of remaining natural gas, filled with water and abandoned, Wallace said.
Actual work on the project will not begin for at least three months, with advertising for and awarding of bids not expected to be complete until July. Wallace said once the bids have been received and one accepted, then the work will take about a year to complete. Hinton said neither rates customers pay for gas nor taxes will increase as a result of the bond since it will be repaid using utility revenues.
In another matter, council members Larry Watkins and Jason Todd Lane asked about work along Sycamore Road as part of the Highland Commons Parkway and citywide paving projects. Vernon Moore with Dungan Engineering said paving Cooper Road is expected to be complete within the next three weeks. Wallace said work along Sycamore Road to install turn lanes at Cooper Road will be done first, then crews will move down to install the turn lane work at the intersection of Adcox Road.
Expansion of the city’s cemetery on Palestine Road is said to be necessary. Public Works Director Eric Morris was asked how the process is going during the meeting. He said there are less than 100 available plots in the cemetery, which could last up to ten years, so additional space is needed.
Morris said a meeting with the cemetery board is set for next week and after that meeting he will have information on the expected cost to expand and where the funds will come from.
The council held an executive session where members discussed personnel matters and a pending litigation matter. Personnel matters are not public record. Concerning the pending litigation, Hinton said after the executive session the council accepted a motion concerning a settlement with Landmark Insurance pertaining to the Centraplex fire in which the city was able to obtain the remaining amount of coverage.
The next regular council meeting will be held April 16 at 5 p.m.