Matching funds needed for West Pelzer water system upgrade

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By Stan Welch – The West Pelzer Town Council cautiously tiptoed towards awarding the contract for the second phase of the Town’s water system upgrade.

The Council voted to accept the bid of West Utilities Construction Inc. to do the project; but stopped short of awarding the contract, due to the lack of all the matching funds required for the Community Development Block Grant.

To award the contract would legally obligate the Town and possibly force them to come up with the matching funds themselves.

Due to the unexpectedly low bid of just over $300,000, the amount of the matching funds is likely to be reduced as well, since it is based on ten per cent of the project cost. Greg Dawkins, representing the Town’s engineers, Dunn & Associates, could not give a definitive answer on that, however.

“I was unable to get in touch with Dirk Reis, at ACOG, to ask him that and a couple other questions. So I can’t vouch for the fact that the match funds will come down as well.”

Mayor Peggy Paxton also asked if the difference in the bid and the original amount of the grant, approximately $448,000, could be applied to the match fund requirement.

Complicating the matter is the fact that pipe suppliers are anticipating a fifteen per cent cost hike for supplies at the end of the month. As the project is drawn, those increases would result in as much as a twenty thousand dollar increase in cost.

The vote to approve the bid was taken to allow Tommy West to go ahead and lock in the current price on materials. “I don’t mind working with you on that as long as I know nobody is gonna slip in and cut my throat on the bid and leave me holding the bag,” he said.

Mayor Paxton assured him that such was not the case. “Your bid is substantially lower and you have always done good work for us in the past. We certainly want you to do this project as well.” She also pointed out that the town has in hand a commitment from Senator Billy O’Dell for $29,900 of the matching funds, which total $52,000 under the current conditions of the grant.

“I am fairly comfortable that we will obtain the balance of the funds needed from other sources, but that has not happened yet,” said the Mayor.

The Council agreed to meet again as soon as Dawkins and town clerk Paula Payton have gathered the additional information needed to go ahead and award the contract.