City OKs $150K for Matthew-related work

By Mike Gellatly -

LUMBERTON — Clean-up costs related to Hurricane Matthew continued to mount Wednesday after the City Council approved more than $150,000 to pay for mitigation measures.

Council members, meeting as the Council Policy Committee, approved four items directly related to flood damage at the Electrical Utilities Department. Seven properties were condemned for demolition and many more flood-related measures moved forward during the meeting. All committee actions go to the City Council for final approval on Monday.

Circuit breakers and an indoor switchboard at the department that were destroyed were approved for replacement at a cost of $58,933 and $28,545, respectively. The components will be purchased and installed by Schneider Electric USA of Salisbury and Schweitzer Engineering of Charlotte, the low bidders for both jobs.

The Electric Utilities Department bought a replacement brush chipper from low bidder National Joint Powers Alliance, a government contractor, for $41,571. Lamar Brayboy, department director, said the previous machine was damaged during Hurricane Matthew and insurance on the old chipper was paying for the new chipper.

Storm-related damage to a forklift caused a $15,000 overage in flood decontamination at the Electric Utilities Department. That amount accrued because Lumberton was responsible for providing a forklift to contractor EHC Environmental. Not being able to supply the forklift meant delays for which the city had to pay $6,000 a day for 2.5 days. As a result, the contract cost rose from $114,000 to $129,000.

In other business, committee members:

— Discussed giving City Manager Wayne Horne authority to institute a program aimed at retaining police officers as they gain experience. Under the proposal, officers would be given larger pay increases as they gain basic, intermediate and advanced certification. Currently the first pay increase for an officer upon specific certification is 2.5 percent. The new policy would double that.

“It is a plan for when we are recruiting new officers, they will see that they get a step here, a step there and they will get credit for these different certifications,” Horne said.

— Approved closing a portion of 27th Street starting Monday and through the end of the year so Southeastern Regional Medical Center can finish expanding its heart center operating room. A crane and a dumpster area likely will be located on that street. Council members noted that two businesses on 27th Street will be impacted, but both are owned by Southeastern Regional and have available alternate entrances.

— Approved Southeastern Health’s request to add three signs for three locations on the 200, 400 and 500 blocks of 27th Street.

— Approved Doherty Holdings Sixth LLC’s petition for contiguous annexation of property on Dawn Drive in Lumberton, where there are plans to place a Kia dealership. The property sits between Southeastern Health Medical Park and Lumberton Ford.

— Approved the payment of $176,000 to the North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency for renewable energy development and service.

— Adopted an addition to the nuisance ordinance for Lumberton related to household debris. The additional paragraph refers to accumulations of household items in and around a structure if it is deemed that they have reached the point of creating health and safety hazards. The addition is not aimed at property undergoing post-hurricane demolition or construction debris.

— Approved allocating $1,000 in community revitalization funds to help send Rowland Norment Elementary School students to the Raleigh Museum of Natural Science, Arts and History. The request was made by Councilman Burnis Wilkins.

By Mike Gellatly

Reach Mike Gellatly at 910-816-1989 or via Twitter @MikeGellatly

Reach Mike Gellatly at 910-816-1989 or via Twitter @MikeGellatly

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