Water line cost will be shared

Apr. 10, 2013 @ 06:05 PM

The City of Oxford has approved a cost-sharing plan that will extend a water line to the Granville County Convention and Expo Center.

Action by the city’s board of commissioners Tuesday night followed approval of the plan by county commissioners who had requested the line to its 12-acre property on U.S. 15 south of Oxford and 5,000 gallons of water a day from the city system.

The plan was set out in a memorandum of understanding between the two governments.

Two grants — $187,000 from the N.C. Rural Center and $200,000 from the Golden LEAF Foundation — enabled Granville County to build an eight-inch water line along U.S. 15 to its facility, beginning near the NT Techno Plant. City officials, however, requested that a 12-inch line be constructed to accommodate future development in the area and that it extend from an existing 12-inch line near Knotts Grove Road to the southern property line of the United Tobacco Co. The tobacco company’s property, about 21 acres, is adjacent to the county’s property.

According to the memorandum, Oxford will pay for the first leg of the extension and the difference between the cost of eight-inch and 12-inch lines for the second leg, which will serve the Expo Center. Granville County will pay for the final leg. The total project is about two miles long. Grant funds are not available for the upgrade, the memorandum says.

According to Granville County Manager Brian Alligood, plans for the water line are under review by N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Once approved, an invitation to bid will be advertised. Completion of the project, with total cost estimated at about $420,000, will take 30 to 45 days, Alligood said. He said two wells now serve the Expo Center property, which the county purchased in 2010, but could not supply sufficient water for expansion of the facility. The county will manage the project because it received the grants. On completion, Oxford will own, operate and maintain the line as part of its water system, according to the memorandum.

City approval of the plan was contingent upon the county’s request for annexation of the Expo Center property by the city. According to its policy, the city must have the option to annex if city water or sewer is run to property in the county. If Oxford annexed the Expo Center property, it would provide all city services, including police and fire protection. Because the property is owned by local government, no tax revenue could be collected.

In another matter, the commissioners approved a contract with Randy Hemann of Salisbury to be city manager. The position has been vacant since June 2012. Hemann, who is the executive director of Downtown Salisbury, begins his duties on May 6. He will be paid $97,500. The city considered more than 100 applications before selecting the West Virginia native.

The commissioners also voted to suspend the city’s Career Development Plan for a year.

A report from the personnel committee cited “concerns relating to the cost, effectiveness and operation” of the plan. The suspension, though, will not affect employees completing eligibility requirements this fiscal year.

Committee chairman Frank Strickland said the plan, which rewards employees when they earn certifications in their positions, is too costly and not applied equally. He said employees of the police and fire departments can earn annual pay hikes of 5 percent while public works employees can earn only 3.5 percent. Other city departments have no plan.

He said, for example, a three-step plan rewards an employee with a 5-percent pay increase each year for three years.

Because of the cost, “I just don’t see how we can maintain this program.” He said he prefers a bonus plan.

The board referred to its public safety committee complaints from downtown merchants about vehicles parked on the street longer than two hours.

While Barefoot advised commissioners how to increase penalties, Strickland said the problem could be solved by enforcement of existing city law. The fine on the books is $5.

The city code “already requires the police to enforce two-hour parking,” Strickland said.

Barefoot said he will recommend to the committee an increase in the fine and making the violation a civil penalty that “gets peoples’ attention pretty quickly.”

He said parking violations are common in small towns where there is no regulation and where there is a need for long-term parking because of government offices and courts.

“This costs business owners potential customers,” Barefoot said. He said he will also recommend the committee identify all off-street parking and provide signs about use, such as all-day, two-hour or private.

In other business, commissioners:

• Adopted a resolution asking the General Assembly to maintain funding for the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. Lawmakers are proposing to cut funding from $27.5 million to $15.5 million. Funding is provided by the deed stamp tax, but Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget proposal removes the dedicated revenue source and replaces it with a direct budget appropriation. Commissioners said the city has received over $2 million from the trust fund over past 25 years.

• Called for a public hearing on May 14 to consider amending its zoning ordinance to allow banner signs in the highway business (B2) and general business (B3) zones. Conditions for banners recommended by the planning board include a $25 permit fee, a limit of one sign per 30-day permit, a limit of four signs each year and removal of a banner within a week after the end of an event.

• Awarded to Jed Pittard Builders a $30,700 contract to construct a restroom at the Hix Playground. A contingency budget of $3,070 was also approved.

• Awarded to Nu Tech Paving a $167,335 contract for Powell Bill paving. Commissioners also approved an additional $23,608 for cost overruns and 10 percent of the contract for contingencies. Resurfacing will include portions of Sycamore (Granville to Orange), Forest (College to New College), Robin (Country Club to Cardinal) and Raleigh (Franklin to Eighth and High to Front).

• Approved two requests to close Wall Street/Hunt Drive from Spring Street to Linden Avenue for community events. The It’s Not Too Late Foundation will sponsor its Youth Explosion Event from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 27, and the Good Shepherd Ministries will sponsor its third annual Community Festival from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 5.

Contact the writer at news@hendersondispatch.com.