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Oakwood dips into sewer fund for culvert fixes
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Oakwood City Council voted Monday night to pull $490,333 from its sewer fund to pay for emergency repairs related to May 19 floods.

Council unanimously passed a resolution taking the action, which mainly involves replacing a culvert on Mud Creek at McEver Road, near the city’s border with Flowery Branch.

The project is already moving forward, with a contractor selected from among seven bidders and an Aug. 2 completion date set.

“Before you let that bid, you’ve got to be able to prove you’ve got to pay that bid,” City Attorney Donnie Hunt told the council. “This (action) is one of the things the city needs to do to show good faith that its bids are backed.”

The resolution calls for city officials to reimburse the sewer fund from its general fund, which is supported partially by property taxes, in the amount of $163,444 by Dec. 31 and the balance of $326,889 by Dec. 31, 2014.

The city is slated to receive $200,000 from a Georgia Department of Transportation emergency fund.

“This (action) is just a must to be able to move forward (on the repair) and go on to what we’ve got to do,” Mayor Lamar Scroggs said. “Then, the rest of it we’ll work out, whatever we need to do as we move along.”

Money in the sewer fund is “obligated for sewer needs, so it needs to be a short-term loan,” City Manager Stan Brown said.

“Some communities might go out and get a bank loan to do this type of work,” he said.

Neighboring Flowery Branch caught the brunt of the storm that dumped some 7 inches within several hours the morning of May 19, causing some $1.4 million in damage in that city.

The city also is receiving $200,000 in DOT money, and officials there are considering a possible bank loan to finance repairs.

Flowery Branch Finance Director Jeremy Perry told the City Council last week that the city’s 2013-14 budget can be reconfigured to make it work.

Oakwood officials deflected some criticism that the city is dragging its feet on the McEver repairs, which became necessary when the heavy rains washed out the culvert and part of the heavily traveled road with it.

“By 6 p.m. that day, we had our engineers on site,” Scroggs said. “They went to work and, by the next Friday, they had a complete set of plans.”

Last week, the bid was awarded to a contractor, GP Enterprises.

The work involves pouring in concrete for two side-by-side box culverts. Scroggs said he would have preferred installing precast structures, which might have speeded up the project, but overhead power lines won’t allow that to be done safely.

“Everything looks good to being on track to get (the work) done,” the mayor said.

Brown said “it would be improper to do something temporary, with that kind of traffic. ... It would be a disgrace for us to try to do something halfway.

“We’re going to do it right, so that 50 years from now, no one’s dealing with this situation on that creek.”

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