Leader Blues

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

TOP STORY > >Austin buys more water

By JOAN McCOY
Leader staff writer

Austin City Council voted Monday to sign a water purchase agreement with North Pulaski Water Users Association at a lower price, but the same type of agreement it must also sign with Cabot is on hold for another month while the city and the commission that runs Cabot WaterWorks discuss the minimum amount of water Austin would have to buy.

Austin Mayor Bernie Cham-berlain says the city must deal with Cabot until upgrades to Austin’s water system enable the city to buy most of its water from North Pulaski, which offers a better rate of $2.70 per thousand gallons. But she has asked Bill Cypert, secretary and spokesman for the Cabot Water and Wastewater Commission, to come back to the table with a lower minimum purchase than the 31,000 gallons a day in the proposed agreement.

At $3.70 per thousand gallons, Austin would be required to pay Cabot WaterWorks $115 a day, $3,500 a month, whether Austin needed that much water or not. An agreement between Austin and Cabot WaterWorks must be signed by Aug. 28 if
Austin is to continue to buy from Cabot.

During the summer, Austin needs almost 100,000 gallons of water a day. Currently, Cabot and North Pulaski each provide about half. Chamberlain said that although the city will need a second source of water as a backup when most is purchased from North Pulaski, she doesn’t want to pay for 31,000 gallons a day that are not needed.

The agreement with North Pulaski contained a space for the minimum purchase, but Austin gets to set the amount.

The $2.70 per thousand gallons that Austin will now pay North Pulaski is down from $4.05 per thousand, and the new price also includes Austin’s purchase of 51 North Pulaski water customers.

Currently, Cabot supplies the customers in the downtown area of Austin and North Pulaski supplies those across the freeway.

Before North Pulaski can supply the entire Austin system, the six-inch water line under the freeway that connects the two parts of the system must be replaced with an eight-inch line.

A new water tank also is needed, and so far the only work toward the upgrades is the clearing of the site for the tank.

The city has borrowed the estimated $750,000 needed to pay for the work.

Cabot has asked Austin to sign a six-month contract that would be renewed automatically, unless Austin wants out. But Cypert told the council Monday that if Austin needs water in an emergency it will be higher than the wholesale rate of $3.70 per thousand.

“If you want on-demand water, the rate will not be a wholesale rate,” Cypert said. “It will be a commercial rate. That (commercial) rate would be negotiated.”

In other business, the council approved paying $6,000 for a fully equipped police car owned by one of the city’s police officers.

Chamberlain said the odometer on the 2003 Crown Victoria owned by Kyle Matthews showed only 41,000 miles.

The council also approved a low bid of $8,500 from Maxwell Electric for wiring the new fire department across the freeway in front of Cross Creek subdivision.

Additionally, the council approved two low bids for remodeling the donated, underground house next to the new fire station for offices for the fire department and water department: $1,819 from Staley Glass for doors and $5,500 from Perry Siding for architectural shingles and vinyl siding.