City council approves sewer bonds

September 11, 2018

HUNTINGTON — Huntington City Council members on Monday night agreed to allow the city’s Sanitary Board to issue short-term sewer bonds needed to fund capital improvements.

During a regular meeting, council members also agreed to create a new position overseeing safety and wellness at the recommendation of Mayor Steve Williams.

Council members unanimously approved the third reading of an ordinance allowing the Huntington Sanitary Board to issue sewer revenue bond anticipation notes needed for capital improvement projects, not to exceed $10 million. The bonds would be paid for using the funds from the three-phase sewer rate increases approved by city council members in December 2016. The first two rate increases took effect in February 2017 and December 2017. The final increase is set to take effect Dec. 31.

The bonds will fund projects like the Environmental Protection Agency-mandated changes to the chlorine room, said Jim Insco, director of public works.

Council members also passed a resolution to amend the city’s general fund budget, creating a safety and wellness coordinator position inside the city’s Human Resources Department. The position was recommended by Williams after meeting several years with the city’s Health and Insurance Committee, he said. The committee has saved the city approximately $2 million in recommendations. Now someone is needed to continue finding ways to save money and work as a liaison between the city and insurance companies, Williams said.

“It was simply my decision to say, ‘Yes, we have to do this,’” he said. “We have a massive

savings now and we have to make sure we limit our costs and drive additional savings.”

City council members agreed to set aside $50,941 annually for the position, which includes salary and benefits. Council member Alex Vence questioned if the position would actually save the city money in the long run. Williams said he considers the job an “enterprise position.”

“I don’t recommend positions like this unless it can pay for itself,” he said.

Williams said he would dissolve the position if it doesn’t end up saving the city money.

Also during Monday night’s meeting, city council members approved an annual purchase agreement for rock salt needed during the winter for snow and ice removal on the city’s streets and sidewalks.

Insco said only one company made a bid, Compass Minerals of Kansas, for $90.30 a ton. This is approximately $5 more than what the city paid for last year, which is consistent with rock salt prices across the country, he said. According to the agreement, the city must purchase at least 960 tons.

Travis Crum Is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.

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