West Pelzer takes steps to avoid loss of $450,000 grant

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By Stan Welch

West Pelzer Town Council approved an arrangement Monday night that is designed to assure the town funding to complete the rehabilitation of its water lines. The community development block grant (CDBG) funding that the town obtained more than a year ago is slated to become void in the coming weeks, if not claimed and used by the town. The problem is that the $450,000 has to be matched by the town to the tune of $48,000.

An additional grant of just under $30,000 cannot be applied to the matching funds under the conditions for that smaller grant.

Rusty Burns, who assist the town in pursuing various grants, was on hand to explain the circumstances and to encourage the council to approve the proposal, which will use two thousand dollars a month for the next two years to finance the matching funds. The funds will be drawn from the increased water bill revenues in the town.

Grant explained that the town approved the project a year or so ago, but the low bidder was unable to meet the bonding requirements of the contract. The bids obtained at that time are now useless and the project will have to be bid again.

The project is actually the second phase of the town’s upgrading and repair of its decrepit water lines. Councilman Robert Alexander asked Burns what he would recommend, given Burn’s extensive experience with such matters. “Do you think we can manage the $2000 a month?”

Burns said he was confidnt the town could eke that amount out. “It won’t be fun or pretty but it can be done. Besides, while the town is going to be paying higher water costs anyway, so you might as well get something for the money.”

Burns added that the project, which should take no longer than 120 days, will “put West Pelzer in great shape in terms of its water system. You really are so much further ahead than many small towns in the area.”

Mayor Peggy Paxton pointed out that neighboring Pelzer is now paying between $11-$1500 monthly towards the power costs to run the wastewater system that serves both towns. “That will help with this,” she said.

The Council vote was a unanimous 4-0 with Councilwoman Ann Odom absent.