Lynchburg Village Council voted to terminate a water line project last week that had been in the works under the previous administration.
Mayor Terry Burden recommended the project be terminated and council voted 4-2 in favor of his recommendation. Council members Tag Pendleton, Sandy West, Marty Bailey and Jamie Burton voted in favor of the recommendation. Chris Green and Chris Wilbanks Hamlin voted again it, according to Burden.
The mayor said the project to replace the village’s water lines was going to cost $3 to $3.5 million on top of grant funding that had already been secured, and would have raised the water bills of approximately 600 customers around $20 a month.
Burden said he was not sure how much funding for the project had been secured, but that he believed it was less than $800,000.
“And that’s what didn’t make sense to me,” Burden said. “We had some grant money, but it was lopsided. It should have been the other way around.”
The village has spent about $208,000 in engineering work on the project, most of it under the former administration when Gary Jones was mayor, Burden said. He said his administration has agreed to spend about $10,000 of that total to finish the engineering work.
“We’ll finalize it and in the future we can use it and don’t have to go through that process again,” Burden said.
Burden said the project was originally going to cost village water customers about $9 a month, but then it increased to $20 a month, and that was before any ground had been broke.
According to Burden, the former administration didn’t shop the project around much and wanted to do it all at one time, while Burden feels it should be done in phases. He also said the former administration decided to add the Glenavy subdivision to the project – at a cost of $500,000 – when that didn’t need to be done because the subdivision already had six-inch water lines that aren’t that old.
“I thought if we put another $20 on top of the people’s water bills they would have been leaving by the dozens,” Burden said.
He said the project called for the village’s water lines, some of them 100 years old, to be replaced with six-inch lines. He said the village experiences water line breaks now and then, but it’s not a routine occurrence.
“I couldn’t see going ahead with the project right now. I couldn’t look the people in the face if we raised their rates like that,” Burden said. “Down the road it probably does need to be done, especially in the old downtown part. But right now the quality of our water is excellent.”
The mayor also said he believes more grant funding can be secured for the project in the future.
In other news from last week’s meeting, Burden said the village sold two lots and the money raised from those sales will help fund the purchase of a new police cruiser. He said a one-acre lot outside of town on SR 135 toward Allensburg sold for $6,150 and another small, empty lot in town sold for $1,000.
Burden said the SR 135 lot had been purchased by the village a few years ago in case the EPA wanted to extend the village’s water lines to Allensburg. He said that if that happened, the land would have been used for a pumping station location, but even it did happen it wouldn’t be for about 35 years. He said the village had been paying for upkeep on both lots and that now it won’t have that expense.
The mayor also said the village is going to auction off the old police department location on the north side of the village as people come into town from Wilmington, along with some old police cruisers. He said money from those auctions will also go to the police department.
This summer Burden said he wants to see most of the downtown buildings repainted in historic colors and that some paint has already been donated for the project. He said anyone interested in making a donation or helping paint can call the village office at 937-364-2241.
The mayor also said village recently received a $1,000 donation from the Hillsboro VFW for a veterans memorial that’s being planned, and that last week it received court approval to tear down the old Spaeth building downtown if the current owners do not take care of it within 90 days.
“So we are making progress down here,” Burden said.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.