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CL&W estimates tornado costs at $890K


CL&W General Manager Todd Gale

CL&W General Manager Todd Gale



Nathan Gregory



Columbus Light and Water officials estimated damages and repair costs associated with a tornado that crossed through East Columbus on April 28 at $890,000. 


Included in that damage was 43 broken utility poles, 34 damaged transformers and more than seven-and-a-half miles of lines down, CL&W General Manager Todd Gale said during the utility board's monthly meeting Thursday. 


CL&W will be reimbursed for 87.5 percent of that damage if it follows regulations set forth by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state of Mississippi. Lowndes County was declared a disaster area two days after the severe weather event. Municipalities and utilities within disaster area counties as well as the counties themselves will be reimbursed for 75 percent of its cleanup costs. State legislators met earlier this month during a special session and agreed to designate state funds toward another 12.5 percent. After those reimbursements, CL&W will be on the hook for just over $111,000.  




Board tables water meter invoice 


In other business, the board tabled a $2,672,050 invoice from Utility Metering Solutions for the installation of new water meters. Board member Jimmy Graham noted the invoice did not have a signature from Neel-Schaffer, the engineering firm who recommended UMS for meter installation.  


He and colleague Andrew Colom also said the bill seemed front-loaded for a project that had not yet begun. CL&W's contract with UMS install 11,126 meters in the city is $3.520,451. More than half of the invoice presented Thursday was comprised of materials already purchased, including all of the meters, which CL&W already has in storage and ready for installation. 


Graham also noted the high payment and performance bond, which is a required part of most contracts as a security to the job completion, in the invoice.  


"They're charging roughly three percent, and I've never heard of one that high," Graham said. "My experience ... with Graham Roofing was we were paying a point and a half." 


He also noted that a mobilization fee was included and asked why it was there when work on the project isn't supposed to start until June 1. 


"They've (UMS) got their folks in and they've got people lined up to start doing the work," Gale said. 


"I would think they would bill us for mobilization a month after they've mobilized," Graham said. "It just seems to me that we're bad front-loaded."


Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.



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