City Council moves several projects forward

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By Chris Sardelli

Lancaster City Council voted Tuesday to move forward with several construction and improvement projects.

The projects include a lease-purchase agreement to buy city equipment, funding to upgrade a lift station and to power a former Springs Global building.

Council unanimously approved final reading of an ordinance that will provide the city with a lease-purchase agreement to buy new equipment.

The proposed agreement, which totals $825,000, divides the requested equipment into two separate funds.

The gross revenue fund will receive $470,000 to obtain a dump truck for $60,000, a front-end loader for $140,000 and a sewer-jet vacuum truck for $270,000.

The solid waste fund will total $355,000 – $135,000 for a new leaf vacuum truck and $220,000 for a commercial front-end load garbage truck.

Council accepted bids for the lease-purchase agreement from three local banking institutions, First Citizens, BB&T and Wachovia. The city authorized entering into an agreement with First Citizens, the lowest bidder with a proposed fixed interest rate of 2.81 percent.

"We found it more palatable to do this on a lease-purchase agreement," said Councilman John Howard. "These items are absolutely necessary and we got an attractive interest rate."

City Administrator Helen Sowell said all three bids were surprisingly low.

"In our hard economic times, these are good interest rates," Sowell said.

City Finance Director Jim Wilson said the city generally acquires equipment in one of two ways – either using cash from its reserves or, or when buying major equipment, through a lease-purchase agreement.

This type of agreement allows the city to buy equipment and spread the payments out. In this instance, the loan will be paid back in quarterly installments over a five-year period.

During executive session, council approved funding for two separate projects.

First, council voted to approve $122,225 for upgrading the lift station off S.C. 9 Bypass near Duracell.

The lift station, which makes sure sewage is pumped to the waste water treatment plant, had not had a total remake since 1990, though it has had periodic maintenance. The money will go to build new pumps and installing controls and other equipment.

Sowell said the construction process could begin soon, though it may take eight months to complete.

Council approved allocating $18,000 to power up of an abandoned engineering building of the old Lancaster Plant. The three-story, 10,000-square-foot building was given to the city when the mill closed.

Once power is restored, the city can determine what condition the building is in. Sowell said many people have approached her with interest in the building.

"My hope is that one day maybe we could make it a one-stop shop for a number of nonprofit agencies to set up," Sowell said. "I think we may be able to accommodate it for that."

Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at csardelli@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 416-8416