Lincoln council seeks US bailout money for sewer and water projects

LINCOLN — McClelland Consulting Engineers will help the City of Lincoln submit four US Bailout grant applications for water and wastewater projects.

Lincoln already has an agreement with McClelland to provide general engineering services on a set price schedule. For the new work order, the company’s expenses cannot exceed $5,000.

City Council approved an appropriations ordinance at its Oct. 18 meeting to authorize Mayor Doug Hutchens to enter into an agreement with McClelland for assistance with grant applications.

Lincoln is requesting federal covid funding for the following projects:

• Extension of the Sugar Hill sewer project.

• Project to recover non-potable water from the wastewater treatment plant.

• Improvements to the sewage treatment plant desilting system and perimeter security fencing.

• Water system metering project to identify/isolate areas of water loss.

The work order says applications will be submitted to the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission by Nov. 4. City officials do not yet know how much the projects will cost.

In other news, City Attorney Steve Zega said the city may move forward in publicizing bids to demolish the former Mexican restaurant on Pridemore Drive.

The city council passed a resolution at a special meeting on August 23 to condemn the buildings at 300, 302, and 304 E. Pridemore Drive because they “constitute a public nuisance.”

The property started out as a potato shed years ago, but has been used for various restaurants over the years. The owner, listed as La Finca LLC by Washington County Real Estate Records, was given 30 days to tear down the building or fix the issues.

Hutchens said the 30 days have passed and the city has even given the owners a few more weeks to respond. The owners have now told the city they don’t plan to do anything about the problems with the buildings.

“So here we are. We’re moving into the demolition phase,” Hutchens said.

The offer to raze the building will also include an asbestos survey. If asbestos is discovered, it will first need to be removed before the building can be demolished, Hutchens said.

Zega said the city went “above” by working with the owners of the buildings. The demolition will not include a house that is behind the buildings.

In other actions, the council:

• Approved an order changing the line item for shelves from $39,800 to $69,758 to represent the actual price of shelves purchased for the public library.

• Approval of an ordinance authorizing the mayor to enter into a cost-sharing agreement with the state to pay the city’s share of the district court judge’s salary. Lincoln’s share for fiscal 2023 will be approximately $2,500.

• Approved a resolution to allow the mayor to have a 2010 police vehicle. The city will trade the Ford Crown Victoria with Jason Henry in exchange for a $500 credit for outfitting and outfitting a vehicle from the police department. Council members Johnny Stowers and Amanda Thomas voted against this resolution. Stowers said he thinks the city could get more money for the police car by auctioning it off.

In other news during committee reports, council members were told city water rates are set to increase because the Benton-Washington County Regional Water Board is raising rates for its customers. The Board will discuss this at its November meeting.

The city will delay any decision on whether to use a third party for the sewerage service for a year, Hutchens said. This will allow city officials to gather more information about the change in its sewer service.

Hutchens said the city will pay off its library bond issue six years ahead of schedule. The city collects a 5/8% sales tax to pay off the debt.

He said city council would have to make a decision fairly quickly if they wanted to get back to voters and asked them to renew the sales tax for another community project. Some ideas could be the renovation of the community building on Lincoln Square or possibly a new fire station, Hutchens said.

He noted the city has infrastructure needs, but said he wasn’t sure that’s something voters would want to fund with their taxes.

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