Easley OKs sewer bond ordinance

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

EASLEY — Easley City Council is moving forward with plans to issue a stormwater bond intended to allow a number of repairs and replacements to be addressed throughout the city.

During a called meeting June 30, council passed second reading of an ordinance to allow for the issuance and sale of a 10-year stormwater bond not to exceed $800,000. First reading was held June 8.

The bond will help address “systems that were designed 40, 50 years ago that are undersized for capacity,” city administrator Stephen Steese said.

The city’s stormwater director has identified around 20 projects that need to be addressed.

In some instances, pipe separations are occurring that “will create voids that will eventually undermine roads,” Steese said.

The bond will be used “to repair and renovate a lot of these projects,” he said

“I’m not saying these funds will get us through all of them, but the goal is to get them as far as possible with these funds, so we can stop being so reactive on a lot of the issues,” he said. “Right now, it’s actually failing before we go out to have to fix it. So, we’re trying to get ahead to the point where we can get these projects complete, so that when we go out and do projects in the future, we’re actually fixing problems that have not failed at that point in time.”

The city had asked for around $700,000 in C-funds from the county to fix stormwater issues on Dogwood Lane and South 2nd Street, Steese said.

“We only received about $295,000 of those funds, so we are reevaluating those projects and we’ll be moving forward with trying to get an engineer on that,” he said.

Councilman Brian Garrison asked how the city would make up the difference between the amount of C-funds requested and the amount given.

“We don’t know that we can make that up without using some of the bond funds,” Steese said. “The first step in that is to get an engineer on board.”

He said he’s already begun working on the request for proposals “so we can get an engineer hired to help design these projects and give us some options.”

Steese said the city will look at other options.

“There are several options we’ll look at throughout each of these to try and reduce the cost down,” Steese said.

Funds the city receives from the county to pave roads can also be used for stormwater and road maintenance, he said.

“We have also those funds we can look at to help with the paving or the repair of the roads to put back in place as well,” Steese said. “We’ll be trying to look at a group of funds and options to try to get those within a budget that we can work with and that council is good with.”

Councilman Kent Dykes asked if the city could reapply for C-funds.

“Not this fiscal year,” Steese said. “They have funds that they get per year, and once those funds are obligated, we have to wait until they get more funds, which would be next fiscal year.”

Dykes asked if the city could reapply next year.

“We can, but once the project’s complete, we can’t ask for the funds for reimbursement,” Steese said. “So if we wait and reapply next year, the project won’t start for another year.”

City officials recently met with school district officials about South 2nd Street, as those stormwater issues also impact Gettys Middle School.

That meeting was “to see if there was any source of funds or ability they may have to assist with these projects,” Steese said.

BB&T was the lowest bidder on what would be a 10-year, $790,000 bond, he said. Interest rate for the bond was 1.85 percent.

Due to the need to pay off a 2016 stormwater bond, the payments for the first six years of the 2020 bond will be between $65,000 and $70,000, Steese said.

“Once the 2016 bond is paid off for those last four years, all of the money will go to help pay for the new bond and help pay it off,” he said.

Closing on the bond was set for July 8.

Council unanimously passed second reading of the ordinance.