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- Paris Flash
The Paris City Council has scheduled a special session for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday to hear one final round of pitches from companies interested in participating in the city’s $35 million infrastructure replacement work.
City Engineer Shawn Napier began getting the word out Thursday to companies in Paris and elsewhere that are interested in the project: they have until Sept. 27 to send their qualifications and work history.
The council also agreed Monday night that it needs one more budget workshop to decide what else needs to be included in the city’s budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
Following any additions, a public hearing will be set for the following week on all proposed amendments to the proposed budget that Finance Director Gene Anderson gave the council several weeks ago.
Monday, the council discussed adding money for parking lot improvements at the Love Civic Center and outdoor restrooms at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds in Paris.
Anderson told the council no money is currently in the budget for those projects.
“The General Fund, of course, is really tight,” Anderson said, suggesting that the council might look at the possibility of dipping into reserves to finance those projects.
“There is money, I believe, in the Water and Sewer Fund, if we wanted to run the necessary water and sewer lines as the city’s portion of that. And any plumbing-related things for those bathrooms, there’s money to do that,” Anderson said of the proposal for outdoor restrooms at the fairgrounds.
“What I don’t think there is any money for is buildings and construction itself. I don’t see any way to do that short of dipping into reserves,” Anderson added.
The finance director said the civic center parking lot, which would require an estimated $140,000 to repair, also is not presently in the proposed 2013-2014 budget.
“I did not add that as I was given no direction from the council,” Anderson said.
Also, there has been no request from the council to repair the oldest section of the Trail de Paris from South Collegiate Drive to Loop 286, work that would cost about $125,000.
Wright pushed for one more budget workshop, saying “I’d like a little more time on a couple of items, one being the $280,000 for Hiring Partners. I think we have to look at bids on that.”
Councilman John Wright interjected: “I’d like to remind everybody that we’re teetering into deficit spending, and I’m not a proponent of that.”
Rita Jane Haynes, executive director of the Red River Valley Fair Association, made a plea on Monday during the council’s Citizens Forum at the start of the meeting.
“Over the last several years, we have built three restrooms, and we have added fancing and that sort of thing, and we now have more than $600,000 in capital improvements at the fairgrounds,” Haynes said.
“But at this time we are in dire need of outdoor restroom facilities, and we would like the council to to consider in your budget to help in building restrooms on the fairgrounds,” she added.
She listed numerous activities, including several livestock shows and many exhibits “that would need these outdoor restrooms.”
Council members Dr. Richard Grossnickle and Cleonne Drake thought that worthy of the council’s support.
Tuesday, the infrastructure presentations will come first, followed by one final budget workshop.
So far, the council has had three Tuesday infrastructure workshops with eight firms — five local contractors and one engineering firm from Paris, plus an out-of-town consulting firm and two out-of-town engineering companies.
Three companies, all from out of town, will be involved in next week’s final “show and tell” sessions — John Burns Construction Co. and S.J. Louis Construction, along with Teague Nail & Perkins Inc., an engineering company.
The local companies view the city’s infrastructure projects as a jobs situation — an opportunity for the council to “shop at home” themselves by hiring local companies for the project.
Hiring local contractors is one way of bringing jobs to Paris, they suggested.
Mayor AJ Hashmi has pushed the idea of hiring one big company capable of overseeing and carrying out the entire project by itself.
Local companies have complained that would shut them out, since they are unable to post the bond on a project that large. They argue for breaking the project into a number of smaller pieces and giving the work to local companies.
Hashmi has argued that the smaller local companies would get plenty of work because if a large company go the contract it would be subletting a lot of the work to local companies.
One of the local contractors, Barney Bray, argued that the locals got shut out of the Paris ISD project four years ago to build the new Paris High School campus. The work went to small contractors in Collin County, Bray said.
By Charles Richards, eParisExtra