Two of Hammond’s upcoming lift station sewer improvement projects should be ready to go out for bid by the end of the month.
Engineer Chuck Spangler said these two projects will solve about 90 percent of the sewer problems in the Mooney, Varnado, Mississippi and Live Oak area, but the city will still need to find and repair the leaks using a sewer system evaluation survey and sewer rehabilitation to completely solve the problem.
At the city council meeting Tuesday, Spangler explained that Currently, six force mains come through Mooney Avenue from all over town, and when the force mains get to the south plant, they manifold into a single 18-inch underground pipe.
“When the rains come and all the stations get full of water, they’re all pumping into one single 18-inch line,” he said. “That 18-inch line effectively chokes down the small stations. The big stations with the high horsepower are the only ones working effectively.”
The project will separate those force mains and pump them directly to the pond where there is no impediment to the flow during rain.
The second project is a new lift station on Mississippi Street.
“I’m putting a station in that’s going to take the water when it reaches two feet from top of the manholes. It’s going to drain into a new pump station and that pump station is going to suck it down at 1200 gallons a minute,” Spangler said.
It will be pumped straight to the pond.
“The mayor asked me to expedite the project, and he told me to be ready by end of October, and it will be ready by the end of October, one way or the other,” Spangler said.
The current year’s SSES work began as soon as possible during the first week of July.
Council President Kip Andrews put on Tuesday night’s agenda the introduction of a request for $750,000 to be transferred from the Sales Tax Fund ending fund balance to Capital Expenditures. The funds would provide for sewer system improvements of two lift stations, SSES and sewer rehabilitation.
To the confusion of city administrators, Councilman Devon Wells had asked Andrews to place the transfer on the agenda.
The item, although tabled by Wells at a meeting in April, had been added, along with more funds, into the budget for the new fiscal year, which began July 1. The budget was given to the council in May, was discussed in a workshop for two days in June, and was adopted by the council in June after a public hearing.
Councilman Wells said he was unaware that projects from the previously tabled item had been incorporated into the new budget although he had approved it.
Wells said he keeps hearing from city administration that he threw way $750,000.
“It’s been told to my district I threw away $750,000,” he said.
Spangler and city administrator Lacy Landrum said that it was not thrown away, but it was delayed.
Spangler said the six-month construction period could have already been underway.
Councilwoman Carlee Gonzales and Councilman Sam DiVittorio asked where funds for Wells’ request would come from as there is only $586,000 in the Sales Tax ending fund balance.
Spangler said it would be redundant to allocate more funds because the projects had already been funded with the approval of the budget.
“It’s already underway – project number assigned, engineering commences, done utility locates, done surveys, design work, got pumps sized, all we are waiting is to see we don’t run into something and cut a line illegally like a fiber optic, gas main or electric line,” Spangler said. “After we get that information this week, we’ll wrap up our design, we’ll have everything approved and move forward with the bidding.”
Wells asked where the funds are he tabled back in April.
Spangler said it was still the same money request, just presented differently as part of the 2021 budget.
Wells accused Spangler of moving forward with the job anyway after he had tabled the item. Spangler said he was doing the job after the council approved it in the budget.
Wells said he tabled the fund transfer for a reason, and this is the reason budgets need to be broken down for everyone to see.
Landrum said it had been, which is why the council was presented with the budget six weeks prior, there were budget meetings that took two days, and they discussed it specifically in a meeting with a public hearing.
“This is the game that the administration plays all the time, and it all gonna come back at the end,” Wells said. “One thing about it, the old saying, the dog that wags his tail, he finds his tail cut off sooner or later, especially when he wags his tail a whole lot, so that’s why I put it back on the agenda. I just wanted to see exactly how it was come out and what was done with the money.”
Spangler defended himself, saying the item was discussed in great detail during the budget meeting.
Council members looked to city attorney Andre Coudrain as to what to do about the topic. He said parliamentary procedure states that tabled items should come back up at some point, but since this issue was addressed in the budget, it becomes moot.
Coudrain advised the council to just withdraw the item.
When Landrum and the mayor walked out of the meeting, Wells commented that this was a council meeting, and neither needed to be here for it.
Councilman Wells asked resident Jessica Shirey to be escorted out of the meeting for asking, from her seat in the audience, the council president to call the meeting to order. She left.
The meeting ended with no action taken on this topic.