2017-05-11 / Front Page

Council needs ‘solid numbers’ before it considers funding air conditioining

By SPARKY NEWSOME
editor and publisher

The question of funding assistance by the City of Washington to put an air conditioning system in the gymnasium at the Washington-Wilkes Parks and Recreation Department was given further consideration and council members seemed to indicate that “it’s going to happen” this year.

“We have a great plan in place for getting air conditioning in sooner, rather than later, in the gym,” Councilman Kimberly Rainey reported after having participated in a W-WPRD board meeting last Friday. Councilman Mike Scarborough also serves on that board and added his support to the plan.

“Alvin [Jones, director] is doing a great job at the Parks and Rec,” Scarborough said. “He’s learning every day and is doing a fantastic job.” Reporting on Friday’s board meeting, Scarborough continued, “The Parks and Rec board will bring to not only the City Council, but also the County Commission, in the near future, a complete request for several improvements we need to make, including the air conditioning system. This will include other items and we are preparing a cost estimate so it can be requested from both the city and county.”

Councilman Maceo Mahoney was concerned that further delay on acting on the motion he made at the Council’s April meeting would leave the gym without air conditioning this summer. He was initially uncomfortable with tabling that motion further. Not willing to wait on air conditioning until later, he asked, “Is it going to be this year” [in time for summer].

“We hope so,” Scarborough said. “Right now we’re still trying to figure out exactly how much money we need.” He reported that the cost for the air conditioning system itself is know but not the electrical panel installation needed to support it. He also said that Jones is working on securing some grant money to help with the funding, and possibly a fundraiser.

“Once we get all that, as soon as we can, we’re coming back with a motion to ask for money,” Scarborough said.

Another consideration, Rainey pointed out, is the power to run a new air conditioning system. “We could make things happen a little quicker and sooner if the City would say we don’t have to pay the light bill,” she said. “We’ve never had to pay a light bill including air conditioning in the gym for the summer. We’re only getting a certain amount of money. We can air condition it, but who’s going to pay the light bill?”

Mayor Ames Barnett weighed in to say that it seemed that all of the council members are in favor of air conditioning the gym. “I think the support is here,” he said, “but we need some solid numbers before we write a check.” He pointed toward the June meeting of the Council for a vote if the W-WPRD board can provide those costs.

“I think we can,” Scarborough said. “We will,” Rainey added.

Following a meeting with a Municipal Electric Association of Georgia (MEAG) representative, City Administrator Sherri Bailey prepared at 10-year projection of costs expected for power generation through 2027. She provided charts illustrating the projections.

“As you can see from the numbers, it’s looking really good for the city,” Bailey said. Despite a slight “spike” during the next five years, through 2021, by 2027 the cost in cents/kWh should be actually lower that the current rate.

The chart shows that the current rate is 7.44 cents per kilowatt/hour. The expected rise will hit a high of 7.98 cents (an increase of seven percent) in 2020, then drop as low as 6.75 cents (a decrease of nine percent) in 2026, before settling at 6.78 cents at the end of the projection. Overall, that’s an average of 7.28 cents, slightly lower than the current rate.

Bailey pointed out that even at the highest point of the spike, for the average customer, it would amount to only about a $4 increase. At the end, there would be a decrease and overall savings.

“Everything’s looking good,” Bailey reiterated, “and if we get any more information from MEAG or if anything changes, I will let the Council know.”

In other business:

. “I want to thank the high school, and especially the band,” Rainey said. “Last Tuesday night there was a wonderful event on The Square put on by those students. They did an amazing job and I think more events on The Square like that would just bring the community together. The weather was beautiful, the children did a great job – and there was a heap of children out there – everybody was performing, and everybody got along. It was just a really good community event and I think if we can encourage more like that, it will build our community and make us stronger. I want to thank them and the director, Emme Hines. They did a great job.”

. Family Connection and Communities in Schools of Wilkes Executive Director Amethyst Wynn addressed members of the Council to express her thanks for their $50,000 in funding for programming. “It helps us do the things our community needs,” she said. She described some of the programs including JumpStart, the summer program, early intervention, and “trying to help families become self-sufficient. “You pay for a lot of things that keep this community running and thriving,” she said.

. Rev. Joseph Williams appeared before the Council to promote a dinner and theater event he is hosting at The Pope Center, Woman vs. Man, on May 20.

. A temporary pouring permit for the Wilkes County Humane Shelter Association at The Livery on June 3 was approved.

. Councilman Marion Tutt spoke in support of the Booker Park swimming pool saying, “The pool provides another place for our kids to go and it also provides jobs for some.” He encouraged people to take advantage of the swimming lessons that will be offered at the pool this summer.

. Tutt also expressed concern over the condition of Washington’s entryway signs.

. Use of The Square for the Washington Wilkes Football Ironman event was approved for July 27 from 5-7:30 p.m.

. Scarborough was elected as the voting member to attend the MEAG annual meeting July 20-12.

. Bailey clarified that Callaway Plantation is at only 17 percent of its budget, below last year this time, and not at 70 percent as was erroneously reported earlier.

. A resolution for adoption of 2014 CHIP Home Policies and Procedures was approved to facilitate grant application.

. Barnett reminded the Council that the Sign Ordinance is expected to be on the June agenda.

. Barnett announced that a March for Teen Pregnancy Prevention will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 20, on The Square.

. Bailey announced that the City will host a community picnic at Reese Booker Park on Friday, June 9, to showcase the new equipment recently installed by the Public Works Department, as well as improvements made to the Reese Booker Center and the pavilion. The event will also serve as an employee appreciation luncheon. The public is invited.

The next regular meeting of the Washington City Council will be held on Monday, June 12, at 6 p.m., with a work session preceding at 5:30 p.m.

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