- Paris Flash
- Real Estate
The Paris City Council will take a major step Monday night toward replacing and updating the city’s long-neglected system of deteriorated underground water and sewer lines.
The council decided last summer to make it a priority to finally address an issue that past councils had placed on the back burner.
In November, the council engaged Longview-based KSA Engineering to develop a comprehensive long-term plan to address the city’s stressed infrastructure.
At issue are the city’s streets, sidewalks, drainage and, most important, the city’s old water and sewer lines, some of which have been in place for a hundred years or more..
Monday night, the council is expected to call a special election for May 11 at which citizens of Paris will be asked to approve a package of $50 million in bonds to pay for a 10-year program of work.
“The feedback from citizens has been tremendous, that they are ready to take care of this. It has been neglected for too long,” Mayor AJ Hashmi said.
An information program should be undertaken immediately to educate the electorate on the importance of the bond program, the mayor said.
The bond issue would pay for work in the 2013-2014 fiscal year and beyond.
In the meantime, the council instructed KSA to come up with a $5 million, “Year Zero” program of work to be undertaken immediately, without waiting on the bonds.
The mayor said he understands KSA Engineering has substantially completed its recommendations for the “Year Zero” program of work.
A timeline of that plan of work will be presented Monday night.
ThE 2013 work will be paid for with $2.2 million freed up by paying off a prior bond issue last year and from $2.8 million the council has authorized the city manager to pull from the city’s reserves –about $1 million from the General Fund and the remainder from the Water & Sewer Fund.
“The city has already started working on a major line that breaks down all the time,” Hashmi said.
The $5 million being made available for infrastructure work this year is in addition to $400,000 the council pulled out of reserves last year to pay for tearing down “every dilapidated house in town.”
City manager John Godwin is recommending three separate bond propositions – one for streets, one for water and sewer line replacements, and one for drainage improvements.
“If approved, bonds could be sold within 30 days of the canvassing of this election, allowing us to begin some of the work in the fall of this year,” Godwin said in an memorandum included in the council members’ agenda packet for Monday night.
The city manager said bonds would be sold as needed.
“Almost certainly we would not sell all of the bonds at one time,” Godwin said. “A positive vote by citizens authorizes the sale of general obligation bonds and a tax to support their repayment if necessary. It does not mandate their sale or establish a specific timeline.”
Repayment of bonds will depend upon when they are actually sold.
By conducting the special election concurrent with the regular council election, there should be minimal additional cost, Godwin said.
Early voting would be Monday through Friday from April 29 through May 7 at the Lamar County Courthouse Annex, and Election Day voting at two sites – the Red River Valley Fairgrounds for Districts 1 and 2, and the Courthouse Annex for Districts 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.
Simultaneous to that would be the annual city council election, in which incumbents Richard Grossnickle in District 4, Matt Frierson in District 5, and Hashmi in District 7 are completing their first 2-year term.
Also Monday, the council will:
By CHARLES RICHARDS