City council: Surplus funds mean more street paving

October 18, 2012 11:28:06 AM

Jeff Clark - [email protected]


With a late November deadline looming, the Columbus mayor and council are in negotiations to spend the last of some general obligations bond money. The money will be used for street paving in some of the city's wards. 


In June, Mayor Robert Smith informed the council that approximately $1.4 million remained in bond money. The five wards evenly split $1 million of that amount for street projects. At the request of Smith, the remaining $432,000 was designated for special paving projects, including the parking lots at the Hitching Lot, Catfish Alley and Trotter Convention Center and creating a new parking lot at the Riverwalk near Harvey's. The Lowndes County Board of Supervisors in June voted to assist with the paving of the Hitching Lot (Farmer's Market) and the Trotter parking lot. 


City Engineer Kevin Stafford on Wednesday met with the council in a specially-called meeting to discuss the upcoming paving projects. 


"Our bids came in under our original estimates by about five percent," said Stafford. "Some of you will have some money and some of you over-spent in the first round of paving." 


With a $150,000 budget for engineering fees, Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem asked Stafford if further fees will have to be paid by the city. 


"We are here today to discuss paving and to see how we can get the best bang for our buck," Karriem said. "We set aside $150,000 in the budget for engineering fees. Will we see additional fees on top of the budgeted money?" 


Stafford said his employer, Neel-Schaffer, bills the city on a monthly basis. 


"The bill is broken down." Stafford said. "We do not charge the city a management or administrative fee." 


Mobilization costs were slightly contentious among some of the council members. According to Chief Financial Officer Mike Bernsen, mobilization costs are the costs associated with setting up and tearing down for a particular job. 


"If you have to move the equipment from street to street, it can cost a good bit of money," Bernsen said. 


With 12 streets paved in Ward 6 and far less in Ward 1, Ward 1 Councilman Gene Taylor questioned splitting the mobilization costs. 


"Let's not try to pretend this mobilization cost is fair because it's not," Taylor said. 


Bernsen said the remaining money must be spent before the Nov. 29 deadline. 


"Even after the next round of paving, there will still be some money left," Bernsen. "The checks have to be written before Nov. 29. Some of the money may have to go towards a special project." 


Part of the money, $25,000, will be used for sidewalk, curb and gutter repairs in Catfish Alley. 


Stafford said everything should be finalized by the Nov. 21 council meeting.  


The council voted unanimously to allow Stafford to make the necessary adjustments regarding the overage of the bond money.