City unable to take action on airport bids

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Although bids for continued expansion at the Troy Municipal Airport came in well-under estimates, the city council won’t award the bid until it receives FAA approval.

“We did talk to our contact in the Jackson, Miss., office (Tuesday) morning … and he said the FAA would not allow the awarding of bids (Tuesday night),” Mayor Jimmy Lunsford told the council members during the meeting. “We’re still awaiting approval from Washington, but hopefully we will have everything in place by the next council meeting.”

The FAA has guaranteed up to $2 million for the remaining portion of the airport expansion, which includes the paving of the new, extended runway. The project was put on hold about two weeks ago when congressional debates over funding forced furloughs at the Federal Aviation Administration and a halt to ongoing construction projects.

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“We excited because the bids came in well under budget,” Lunsford said. The low bid was approximately $1.5 million.

The Troy runway expansion, a $6 million project, has been 95 percent funded by the FAA. The other 5 percent is split evenly by the City of Troy and the State of Alabama. “The money is approved, and we feel sure since this came in way under budget,” Lunsford said last week.“But the fight between the Democrats and Republicans has got FAA strangled, and we are at their mercy.”

In other economic development work on Tuesday, the council approved resolutions authorizing tax abatements on the purchase of new equipment for Golden BoyFoods and the issuing of up to $4.2 million in bond for the Industrial Development Board, both of which were part of the city’s commitment to the company.

“The tax abatement is for state sales tax only,” the mayor said. “And the bonds are what the Industrial Development Board used to purchase the property, which in turn is leased to Golden Boy.”

In what Lunsford described as “good news,” he told the council members that the company already had paid its July and August rent, “even though they’re just starting to move in.”

In other business, the council:

• Discussed seeking property appraisals for the Troy Public Library building and the Troy Public Works building. The library building, on North Three Notch, will be vacated by the city once the new library is completed. The Public Works building off U.S. 231 North also will be abandoned as new building is being constructed as part of the city’s ongoing infrastructure improvement work.

• Awarded bids for the purchase of two utility trucks: a 47-foot digger and a 55-foot bucket truck. The bids were for approximately $202,000 and $192,000, although the city will receive a $46,000 credit for a trade-in on the bucket truck. The city expects to take delivery on the vehicles in six to eight months.

• Declared weeds a public nuisance at two locations: 511 George Wallace Drive and 103 Homewood Ave.

• Heard encouragement from Councilman Charles Meeks for drivers to use caution in upcoming days as children return to school.

• Heard the mayor read a letter from a resident thanking Raymond Sexton and the grounds department for the work they do to beautify the city. “We don’t say it often enough to all our employees,,” Lunsford said.