Council talks sewer improvements

Mar. 07, 2014 @ 08:06 PM

The Henderson City Council at its Monday, March 10, meetings plans to discuss and take public comment about using grant funds to make water and sewer improvements in low-income neighborhoods.

City Manager Ray Griffin said the recent changes in Community Development Block Grants meant municipalities could no longer use the funds for housing projects.

Instead, the city proposes applying for the grants to address critical water and wastewater infrastructure needs in town.

Four projects are under consideration:

• A Newton Dairy Road gravity sewer extension project would eliminate the need for a pump station, which is more than 40 years old and in need of replacement. Most of the engineering work has already been completed.

• Birch and Bobbitt streets sewer extensions would help take the burden off a failing septic system. This project in northeast Henderson but outside city limits has been proposed before but met resistance from some property owners.

• Extending the water main on Railroad Street would help relieve low-pressure problems in the area due to a 2-inch or smaller main that’s more than 30 years old. This project is outside city limits but connected to city water.

• Extending the Thomas Lane water main would help alleviate low-pressure and water quality issues there from a 2-inch main. This project is outside city limits.

After the first of two public hearings on the subject, the city council is likely to vote on whether to pursue the grant, which is administered by the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources Division of Water Resources.

Board members also plan to discuss selling 529 Highland Ave., a property owned jointly by Henderson and Vance County as a result of foreclosure due to unpaid taxes.

Griffin said city and county both hope to remove the property from public ownership.

“The county tax department received a bid on this lot,” he said. “This is what has initiated it and brought it to the city.”

Also on the agenda:

• Amending the sewer fund for expected project overruns. Griffin said two unexpected issues drove up the sewer operations budget: one relating to the water reclamation plant renovation and another with four pumps going bad at a pump station.

• Vance County request. The county wants the city to consider reviving the intergovernmental committee. The original group was disbanded several years ago, and Henderson and Vance County each selected a representative from their respective boards to act as liaisons. Griffin said he didn’t know whether the council would take action on the county’s request.

• Amending the annual fee schedule. At their previous work session, board members worked to bring the fee schedule for households with more than one garbage container in line with the rest of the policy. They also built consensus around charging a fee for residents who don’t bag leaves after the city’s leaf pickup is over. This is a consent item.

• Agreement setting forth mayor, city council and city manager roles. Griffin said there is one minor change to the policy governing himself, board members and the mayor.

“This agreement concept was initiated with the city council in the March 2008 strategic planning retreat,” he said. “Each succeeding year during the strategic planning retreat, the city council tweaks it.”

Contact the writer at vshortley@hendersondispatch.com. Follow her on Twitter at @herding_stets.