State of the City: Mayor discusses water rate change, finances and projects
Correction: Updated to reflect $12,974,978 in reserves (not$37,650,929).
By Denise DuBois
On Jan. 17, Phenix City Mayor Eddie Lowe addressed a small crowd at the annual State of the City Address. The purpose of the address is to keep citizens informed about finances and projects in the city and to allow constituents to ask questions or address council members.
“We are very transparent. We encourage our citizens if there’s anything they would like to know, to come to our office. This is very important to us,” Lowe said.
Lowe talked about the utility rate change that was recently approved and will take effect April 1. Current rates for 5,000 gallons of water will soon cost $20.52. Add sewer and the cost totals $41.77 for the typical family. Lowe noted that Phenix City’s water and sewer combined rates are still lower than Auburn ($48.79), Smiths ($71.08) and Columbus ($46.46).
“We are still the lowest in our area. But this is critical,” Lowe said. “The infrastructure of old cities, if you don’t have a procurement strategy in place, it will cost a whole lot more money.”
The additional rates will allow for infrastructure improvements.
“No one likes to see those raises, but if you don’t get ahead of your infrastructure, it’s going to cost your children and grandchildren. There are a lot of old pipes in Phenix City.”
During the address, Lowe discussed the General Fund balance sheet, noting that there is $14,201, 504 in total assets, $1,226,526 in total liabilities and $12,974,978 (or 125 operating days) in reserves.
Projects such as 5th Street South resurfacing (under construction), and upcoming resurfacing of portions of Brickyard Road, South Railroad Street, Melanie Lane, Seale Road and 16th Avenue and the replacement of Seale Road Bridge were reviewed. Those projects totaled $1,405,796.44 for the city to pay. Federal money for the projects was $5,667,677.76 for a combined total of $7.1 million.
The council listed the cost of completed engineering and public works projects to be $509,037.96 for St. Andrews drainage pipe replacement, ADA ramp improvements, Lakewood emergency slope repair, Brickyard Road pipe replacement and Idle Hour Park emergency drainage repair.
Lowe reviewed seven completed utilities capital projects, five in progress projects and one project that is in review. Those totaled just under $2.1 million.
Finally, commercial development was on tap. Lowe updated the progress at Villages at Crosswinds on Highway 431 South, Crawford Crossing on the corner of Highways 80 and 280, Halpern Enterprises Site 2 on Highway 280/431 North and a proposed 14-acre site on Highway 80.
Lowe noted that Vectorply, Johns Manville, Logan Machine Works and The Game are expanding their industries, creating a total of 79 jobs. The largest employment increases will be at Vectorply (48) and The Game (27).
Lowe ended his address by urging citizens to attend meeting and stay informed by visiting the city’s web site and Facebook pages.
“A lot of positive things,” Lowe said.
To see the complete slide presentation, visit phenixcityal.us.