Council OKs upgrades to library project

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Thanks to bids that came in significantly under budget, the city of Troy is adding back nearly $175,000 in upgrades and changes to the new public library project.

Library Director William White and project architect Chuck Jones met with the city council members during a work session on Tuesday to outline their request for $174,350 in changes and upgrades to the project. Most of the changes were removed from the original bid in an attempt to control costs, Jones said.

But, when bids came in nearly $500,000 under the $4 million budget set by the city, White and Jones felt they should bring some of the improvements back.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“These proposed upgrades put back of the stuff we took out when we were trying to be very careful not to exceed the price set,” Jones said. “When we got the bids back, we were very excited.”

The proposed projects include such items as increasing parking areas (which had been reduced to save money); outfitting the reading room, described by White as “a focal point of this design”; and outfitting the children’s reading center with props and items designed to spark imagination and creativity. “We won’t just paint a castle; we’ll build one,” White said. “And inside will be a story time room, an office for the children’s librarian and a circulation desk for the children’s section.”

The project to build a new public library on Elm Street has been underway for nearly 100 days and should be completed in about six months. White said his goal is to “exceed people’s expectations,” both in the quality and design of the library and in being fiscally responsible with the city’s funds.

“I really appreciate the work of William, the architect and the library board to keep this project in budget,” Mayor Jimmy Lunsford said.

In other business on Tuesday, council members:

• Heard the first reading on a redistricting ordinance. The changes to district lines will be explained in a public hearing at 5 p.m. on Sept. 26 in council chambers. Lunsford urged members to consider the timing of city elections in 2012, which occur in August, well after the county and state primaries in March. “Once these districts are set, I would recommend that we not notify the public of any changes until after the county and state primaries in March,” he said. “Because our elections aren’t until August, we still have plenty of time to notify people and they won’t be confused about which district and polling place to use for the city or county elections.” Districts 1 and 2 both saw a decrease in population according to the U.S. Census results: a loss of 112 residents in District 1, 46 in District 2. The other districts grew: District 3 by 36; District 4 by 74; and District 5 by 46.

• Heard the first reading on an ordinance to allow construction of cottage housing in city limits within areas zoned R3. This would allow construction of houses that are 800 to 1,000 square feet for a single story, 1,200 to 1,400 for a two story. “I want to be clear to residents that this is for R3 zoned areas only,” said Johnny Witherington, council president. “This is not approving these in R1 or R2, which are single family housing designations.”

• Received an initial report from the mayor on the 2012 fiscal year budget. “I am recommending a cost of living raise for employees,” he said. He also is recommending the city begin setting aside $1 million per year until a $5 million set-aside fund is reached for the utilities budget. Other highlights include additional funding for the Pike Area Transportation System, which is funded by the city, Brundidge and Pike County based on population. “Our population grew and both the county and Brundidge decreased,” Lunsford said. “It’s only fair that our share of the funding increase.” And, he is recommending the retention of the 1-cent sales tax used to fund Troy Regional Medical Center, which generates about $2.7 million in operating funds for the facility.

• Approved an $850,000 appropriation to the Industrial Development Board to fulfill incentives promised to Golden Boy Foods Inc. as part of its recruitment to Troy. “We had hoped we would be able to recoup these funds from grants, but I don’t know how much if any we’ll be able to recoup,” Lunsford said. “However, this doesn’t change our obligation; we are obligated to do this.”

• Awarded the bid for extension of the runway and additional work to at the Troy Municipal Airport to Wiregrass Construction Co. The project was bid at $1.581 million and is funded in large part through a Federal Aviation Administration grant.

• Learned that the city would receive $850,000 in CDBG Wastewater Improvement Project funding from ADECA for sewage and water improvements associated with the opening of Golden Boy Foods Inc. and expansion of KW Plastics Recycling. The city’s match for the grant is $250,000.

• Declared weeds on a property at 700 Hanchey St. a public nuisance and declared a property at 1558 W. Three Notch St. a dilapidated and unsafe building.

• Appointed council member Charles Meeks to be the city’s voting delegate at the upcoming League of Municipalities meeting.

• Heard a presentation from Allie Scarbrough, Little Miss Troy.