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Leesburg receives state funding to improve water system

Leesburg awarded state CDBG funds for water system

Thanks to $455,000 in funding from a Georgia Department of Community Affairs’ Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) the City of Leesburg will soon be able to install 3,100 linear feet of 8 inch PVC water mains, 6,170 linear feet of 6 inch PVC water mains and 27 3-way fire hydrants. (Map courtesy of Carter & Sloope Consulting Engineers)

Thanks to $455,000 in funding from a Georgia Department of Community Affairs’ Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) the City of Leesburg will soon be able to install 3,100 linear feet of 8 inch PVC water mains, 6,170 linear feet of 6 inch PVC water mains and 27 3-way fire hydrants. (Map courtesy of Carter & Sloope Consulting Engineers)

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Leesburg City Manager Bob Alexander says a recent award of $455,000 Community Development Block Grant funding to Leesburg from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs will help the city complete a $1.8 million project to rehabilitate and improve the city’s water system. (Herald file photo)

LEESBURG — The burden of making improvements to the city’s water system became a great deal lighter in the past few days as Leesburg officials officials learned the city will receive close to half a million dollars from a state grant.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal’s office announced that Leesburg, along with several other Georgia communities, will be receiving funding from the Georgia Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program administered by the Department of Community Affairs (DCA).

Eighty-two communities will receive a total of $39.7 million dollars this year to help grow their local economies. Seventy-one communities will receive a total of $35.8 million in CDBG funds for infrastructure improvements, neighborhood revitalization and centers that will serve the needy, and 11 other communities will receive a total of $3.9 million in CDBG Employment Incentive Program (EIP) funding to invest in redevelopment and economic development projects to stimulate job creation.

Leesburg will receive $455,822 in infrastructure improvement funding which has been earmarked for a project to improve the city’s water system.

City Manager Bob Alexander said that because of the grant the city can move forward with the installation of more than 10,000 linear feet of new water mains and 27 fire hydrants as part of a larger $1.2 million project that will also include adding new water lines along Walnut Street and building a new 300,000 gallon capacity water tower in north end of town.

“This is all tying into other projects,” said Alexander. “We’re doing this for the betterment of the city. The current water system consists of 60-plus-year-old cement or cast iron mains that have deteriorated over the years and are in need of rehabilitation.”

According to the current plans designed by Carter & Sloope Consulting Engineers, the CDBG funds will be used to install 3,100 linear feet of eight-inch PVC water mains along Starksville Road, Old Smithville Road and Academy Street and 6,170 linear feet of six-inch PVC water mains along Leslie Highway, Fourth Street, Third Street, Lamar Street and River Road.

Leesburg City Clerk Casey Moore, who Alexander said has been instrumental in getting the CDBG funds awarded to the city, said that once the new water lines are installed it will great improve the water pressure to residences and businesses connected to those mains.

With that added pressure the city is also going to install 27 new fire hydrants which collectively could have a positive impact on the county’s ISO (Insurance Services Office) rating, which influences homeowners’ insurance premiums.

“The project is going to improve pressure stabilization to improve the water pressure,” Moore said. “That is going to help our fire suppression ability and possibly ISO rating. That’s just a possibility; it’s not for sure. But, those are things that ISO looks for.”

Moore and Alexander said the project has been in the works for some time and the city had actually tried to receive CDBG funding last year, but was turned down. Alexander said the DCA did offer some tips on how to rework the grant proposal so the city could try again this year.

“We submitted this last year and didn’t make the cut,” Alexander said. “We went back, rolled up our sleeves and took another look at it. We worked as a team and we feel good about this. There were a lot of people along with Casey that put a lot of time and effort to make this happen.”

Moore said that in addition to the $455,822 from DCA the city also qualified for approximately $1.8 million in low interest funding from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) to improve the water system infrastructure.

Moore said GEFA was created to provide local governments with easy access to inexpensive financing for water and sewer improvements. Because Leesburg’s water project met qualifications the city was able to get two 20 year loans with fixed rates, one for roughly $750,000 at 2.03 percent and another for close to $650,000 at 1.4 percent.

In addition, the city qualified for $200,000 in principal forgiveness on the loans and those funds served as the city’s match for the CDBG funds.

“In all we’re making $1.8 million in improvements and the net cost is only $1.2 million,” said Moore. “It’s a really good deal.”

Now that all funding has been procured, Alexander said the various phases of the project would begin to move forward. He said he hopes the city will issue bid requests for the water tower and Walnut Street pieces of the project in October and let out bids for the next phase early in 2015.