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Jellico Utility handles lengthy agenda

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By Natasha LaFayette

natasha@lafollettepress.com

 

While state confirmation on a sewer project has not yet been received, the Jellico Electric and Water Board approved Hurst Excavating as the lowest engineering bidder for the project.

“We do anticipate that they will be approved,” said Utility General Manager Mike Bethurem. “You can either hold off and we can have a special call meeting to approve it once we get state approval or you can approve it contingent on state approval of the bidder.”

Once the board approves the bid, a resolution would have to be passed by the Jellico Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

The board approved the bid based on state and city approval.

Next on the agenda was a discussion on the draft of a purchasing policy. According to Bethurem, the auditor recommended the board put together a formal written policy.

“We have an inventory system for most of our field hardware equipment,” said Bethurem. “There are some things not covered on the inventory that I am used to having on an inventory. We are going to be reviewing that.”

Bethurem said the board did not need to take action on the policy, only read over the possibilities in the work order and inventory system.

In other business, the board discussed the new well and water tank project to be funded by the State Revolving Loan Fund (SRLF.) The application for the SRLF loan is still being considered and could take until September to be available for use. The board received confirmation from the funding agency about their confidence in the utilities ability to pay back the loan.

In addition to the SRLF, Bethurem said the Rural Development Emergency grant to complete the wells was awarded to the utility.

“They are planning on awarding it to us, but they had to put together a bunch of documentation to be sent to Washington,” said Bethurem.

When the utility receives the emergency funding they will be required to resubmit priorities to the SRLF.

“Anytime we make a change it slows the process down,” said Bethurem.

Also along the lines of funding for projects, Bethurem stated the utility awarded the bid for the sewer project to be funded by the CDBG grant.

As soon as the state approves the awarded bid, then the board of mayor and aldermen will also have to approve it. A preconstruction meeting will be held and the project will be underway within 60 days, said Bethurem.

Bethurem further updated the board about water rate negotiations with Whitley County. A meeting was held and the contract had not yet been approved by the utility.

According to Bethurem, under a previous administration Whitley County was required to make a deposit to Jellico in the amount of $2,000. Whitley County Water District had inquired whether or not the deposit could be refunded to them.

“I could not find anything about a security deposit,” said Bethurem. “They provided me with the documentation where it was requested by John Leach and they had checks that were written.”

Bethurem said he had not yet resolved the inquiries but felt a refund could be given of the deposit made in the 1980s.

“I would recommend to the board that we do refund this just to improve the relationship,” said Bethurem. “It is not enough to even begin to cover their monthly bill.”

Bethurem said the Whitley County Water District also requested additional interest to be added to the refund, yet Bethurem was against paying interest on the deposit.

He said giving the refund might have a bearing on getting the contract for revised water rates approved by the company.