Saluda on track for changes to USDA loan

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, November 14, 2018

LGC approves city’s audit report, which is required for federal funds

SALUDA — The city of Saluda seems to be on track to begin 11 water and sewer projects at the beginning of next year, after the construction bids came in too high and changes to the project had to be made.

The Saluda Board of Commissioners met Monday and heard from City Manager Jonathan Cannon, who gave an update on the project.

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“The engineer has changed the scope according to this board’s direction in order to bring the bid down in price, and the contractor has agreed in writing to change the scope,” Cannon said.

Cannon also said he has sent the new scope to the United States Department of Agriculture, which he expects to hear back from this week.

If the USDA approves the changes, Cannon said he will submit it to the state for their approval.

“I think we’re talking January or February for authorization to proceed,” Cannon said.

Saluda Finance Officer Julie O’Steen also said the North Carolina Local Government Commission approved the city’s audit report for fiscal year 2017-2018, which was also a requirement.

Last month, the city opened construction bids, which ranged from $1.9 million to $3.1 million, all over budget. The city received a USDA loan of $1.9 million for the water and sewer projects, and had anticipated the construction bids to be around $1.5 million.

Commissioners decided in October to delete one project from the scope, to ask the low bid contractor to delete that project and to ask the USDA for an additional $189,000 in loan proceeds to complete the project.

The projects now include recoating the water tank, Ozone Drive and U.S. 176 waterline interconnections, Florida Avenue water and sewer lines, Hart Street water and sewer lines, U.S. 176 sewer lift station replacement, and U.S. 176 water booster pump station upgrade. 

Saluda is hoping to receive LGC approval on the project in January and then can begin construction shortly thereafter.

Saluda has already implemented water and sewer rate increases to customers in order to pay back the loan.