Lincoln council seeks American Rescue Plan money for sewer and water projects

LINCOLN — McClelland Consulting Engineers will assist the city of Lincoln in submitting four grant applications for money from the American Rescue Plan for water and wastewater projects.

Lincoln already has an agreement with McClelland to provide general engineering services on a set pricing schedule. For the new work order, the company’s expenses cannot exceed $5,000.

The City Council approved an appropriations ordinance at its Oct. 18 meeting to authorize Mayor Doug Hutchens to enter into an agreement with McClelland for assistance with the grant applications.

Lincoln is applying for federal covid funding for the following projects:

• Sugar Hill sewer project extension.

• Wastewater Treatment Plant non-potable water reclamation project.

• Wastewater Treatment Plant grit removal system upgrades and perimeter security fence.

• Water System metering project to identify/isolate areas of water loss.

The work order says the applications will be submitted to the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission no later than Nov. 4. City officials do not yet know how much the project will cost.

In other news, City Attorney Steve Zega said the city could move forward in advertising for bids to demolish the former Mexican restaurant on Pridemore Drive.

The city council passed a resolution at a special meeting Aug. 23 to condemn the buildings at 300, 302 and 304 E. Pridemore Drive because they “constitute a public nuisance.”

The property started as a dirt apple shed years ago but has been used for various restaurants over the years. The owner, listed as La Finca LLC by Washington County real property records, was given 30 days to raze the building or abate the problems.

Hutchens said the 30 days have passed and the city even gave the owners a couple more weeks to respond. The owners have now told the city that they do not plan to do anything about the problems with the buildings.

“So here we are. We’re moving forward with the demolition phase,” Hutchens said.

The bid to demolish the building will also include an asbestos survey. If any asbestos is found, it would have to be abated first before the building can be torn down, Hutchens said.

Zega said the city has gone “above and beyond” in working with the owners of the buildings. The demolition will not include a house that is behind the buildings.

In other action, the council:

• Approved an ordinance to amend the bookshelves line item in the budget from $39,800 to $69,758 to represent the true price of the bookshelves purchased for the public library.

• Approved an ordinance authorizing the mayor to enter into a cost-sharing agreement with the state to pay the city’s share of the district court judge’s salary. Lincoln’s share for fiscal year 2023 will be about $2,500.

• Approved a resolution to allow the mayor to dispose of a 2010 police vehicle. The city will trade the Ford Crown Victoria with Jason Henry in exchange for $500 credit toward outfitting and equipping a Police Department vehicle. Council members Johnny Stowers and Amanda Thomas voted against this resolution. Stowers said he thought the city could get more money for the police car by putting it out for bid.

In other news during committee reports, council members were informed that city water rates would have to go up because the Benton-Washington County Regional Water Authority is raising rates for its customers. The council will consider this at its November meeting.

The city is going to delay any decisions for a year on whether to use a third-party for sanitation service, Hutchens said. This will allow city officials to gather more information about changing its sanitation service.

Hutchens said the city is going to pay off its bond issue for the library six years earlier than forecast. The city collects a 5/8 percent sales tax to pay off the debt.

He said the City Council would need to make a decision fairly soon if it wants to go back to the voters and asked them to renew the sales tax for another community project. Some ideas could be renovating the community building on Lincoln Square or possibly a new fire station, Hutchens said.

He noted that the city has infrastructure needs, but he said he is not sure that’s something voters would want to fund with their tax dollars.

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