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Bid approved for brickyard drainage project

The Demopolis City Council approved a bid for a project to improve drainage in the brickyard area where runoff empties into the Black Warrior River.

The bids for the project came in higher than anticipated, with the total construction to cost $399,700, based on the low bid by Mitchell Constructed. With Community Development Block Grant funds already set, the city increased the amount of its matching funds by $3,790 for a total match of $48,790. The grant is being administered by the Alabama Tombigbee Regional Commission.

The project will pay for the cleaning of ditches and placing riprap along high erosion areas. The ditch work begins on East Capitol Street and will travel northeast to where it empties into the city landing area. According to Demopolis Project Manager Mike Baker, the project could start within 30-60 days.

Cedric Campbell, the assigned engineer through Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood, said the city will not be allowed to grade the ditches due to standards set by the Corps of Engineers.

“We have contacted Rep. (Terri) Sewell’s office and she sent representatives here to look at the project,” said Demopolis Mayor John Laney. “We hope to get an exemption to allow for grading.”

If the grading is approved, Laney said the cost of the project will increase about $28,000.

Also during the meeting, city officials also received a positive report following an audit of its financial status for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

According to Brian Alexander who performed the audit, the city is following all recommended controls. He reported to the council that while its cash-on-hand status decreased in the past year, its overall assets have increased.

The report also indicated that the city’s revenue for 2015-16 increased by $780,743 and expenses rose by $592,101, both of those numbers include revenues and expenses related to grant funds.

In all, the city’s revenue for the fiscal year was $11.21 million while expenses were $10.78 million.

Alexander said the city did need to establish a written financial policy manual, which officials said has been discussed and should be in place by the end of the current fiscal year.

“You and the city’s staff should be commended. The city is in good shape financially,” he said.

“We are very pleased with the results (of the audit), particularly with the financial ratios where we scored 10 out of 12, with 12 being perfect,” Laney said.

Other items discussed during the meeting included:

• approved a loan to Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital for roofing work to be done. The loan will be for $110,000 to be paid at a 6 percent interest rate with the first payment due 12 months upon the signing of the agreement.

• approved a five-year lease for four mowers being added to the city’s current active mowers. Three of those will be for the street department while parks and recreation will use the other.

• Demopolis resident Anita Bonfili addressed the council with concerns regarding speeding in the area of Marengo Drive.

The next council meeting is scheduled for Thursday, August 3, 5:15 p.m., at Rooster Hall.

(This article originally published in the Wednesday, July 26, print edition of the Demopolis Times.)