Home News Local News West Gayle Street waterline breaks might cause leaks in funding

West Gayle Street waterline breaks might cause leaks in funding

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A gaping hole is blocked off by steel barricades belonging to the city of Roswell’s streets and water department at the intersection of West Gayle and South Lea streets. Water was running east down the street and some sections were caked with mud between South Sunset Avenue and South Main Street on late Wednesday afternoon. On Aug. 27, City Engineer Louis Najar said the waterline must be repaired since breaks have been occurring on West Gayle Street and the funding will go before the finance committee on Thursday morning. (Alison Penn Photo)

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Finance committee may vote to allocate funds from water enterprise reserves

In order to fund repairs of waterline breaks on West Gayle Street, City Engineer Louis Najar and his department will be asking the city for approval to allocate funds from the water enterprise reserves to the water maintenance and transmission department for this project.

The city of Roswell’s Finance Committee has the Gayle Street resolution on their agenda for today’s meeting and the city council will vote on the item next week, if it is passed in the committee.

According to the agenda, this part of the line is creating “increased pressures on the entire city of Roswell system.” At the meeting, Najar asked the attendees to imagine what happens when a garden hose is pinched and said the line is experiencing a similar pressure on a much larger scale.

The project is estimated to cost $797,211 according to the quote documents from J&H Services Inc. in the finance committee’s agenda packet and Najar is asking for $800,000 to cover this cost. Najar said J&H is the only contractor capable of taking on this project, which is beyond the scope of the city crew.

“The (water) system is old,” Najar said. “It’s taxing the guys and of course it is taxing the budget.”

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At the city’s Infrastructure Committee on Aug. 27, Najar said the breaks have been happening from West Gayle to Main and Sunset and “1 mile of the 36-inch line is shut down.” He said the repairs must be done to replace the cylinder cement pipe from the ’60s. Councilor Caleb Grant asked if this was the only option and Najar said, “there was no other way.”

Najar said the water enterprise reserve fund only has $1.1 million and taking out $800,000 will leave “very little in that account” and it is “scary” when considering all of the other infrastructure projects. Councilor Grant asked what the required amount is to be kept in the enterprise fund and Najar and Neeb said there was no requirement.

“There’s a possibility by the end of this fiscal year, I’ll have a zero or deficit — well you can’t have a deficit — but I’ll be cutting projects,” Najar said.

Councilor Juan Oropesa, chair of the infrastructure committee, and Kevin Dillon, the city’s project and facility director, both asked Najar to clarify that the account Najar was referring to was not the city’s reserve fund, which is required to hold one-twelfth of the city’s annual income. Najar confirmed this.

Najar said the projects that have not been started will not be instigated. Najar also said a clawback happened in finance this year, which means they zeroed out all of his department’s accounts and he “doesn’t know what happened” in those accounts.

“This is my opinion — my opinion — everybody thinks that the enterprise funds are healthy,” Najar said. “It’s healthy to the extent that the enterprise fund can take care of the enterprise funds. When we start having to take care of the general fund, that’s when we’re not healthy anymore … they took an extra $600,000 that they had taken in the past out of the water fund for overhead.”

If the city continues to supplement the general fund with the enterprise dollars, Najar said the city will have to increase rates or consider making cuts in general fund services. Najar said the increase on the rates on services will be determined by how much of the enterprise fund will be used to supplement the general fund.

For other factors to consider, Najar said that all the breaks are causing city employees to be paid more — overtime and repairs to the sidewalks and road, along with curbs and gutters — is not included in the $800,000.

Councilor Oropesa asked if Mayor Dennis Kintigh or City Manager Joe Neeb had anything to say on the matter and they had no comments at that time.

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.