The design phase of a project that will bring water from Harnett County to the Seven Lakes area has begun, with the selection of McGill and Associates as the engineering firm that will both design the project and prepare an application for state funding.
During its Tuesday, July 17 regular meeting, the Moore County Board of Commissioners authorized County staff to negotiate a contract with McGill.
The Board also authorized the negotiation of a contract with Hobbs Upchurch and Associates for the design of a second water supply project: the development of three new wells near Foxfire Village.
Public Utilities Director Randy Gould told the Board that the engineering firms will be on a fast track in order to meet a September 30 application deadline for the state revolving loan fund, which may allow the County to fund the projects with a zero-interest state loan.
Commissioners Larry Caddell and Jimmy Melton assembled a task force on water late last year, with the goal of sifting through the half-dozen or so water supply options available to the County, which ranged from placing an intake in the Deep River near Robbins to purchasing an intake on the Lumber River near Wagram.
They recommended Harnett County as the best option for securing additional water.
Harnett draws its water supply from the Cape Fear River at Lillington, and is expanding the capacity of its water treatment plant from 27 to 42 million gallons per day.
Moore County plans to purchase a portion of that plant expansion for $5.25 Million, securing up to three million gallons per day of Harnett County water. Moore has an existing contract with Harnett for up to two million gallons per day and currently uses about 750,000 gallons per day.
Buying into the plant expansion will both increase the available supply and lower the cost, from the $2.40 per thousand gallons the county is paying now to $1.92 per thousand, potentially saving the county hundred of thousands of dollars each year.
New water mains and pumps, as well as a new water tank in the Seven Lakes or West End area, is expected to bring the total cost of the Harnett County project to $10.8 million.
The County acquired three well sites along Linden Road from the developer of Stonehill Pines, a golf course resort development proposed for Foxfire Village.
Two test wells have been drilled, providing good quality water and adequate flow. The three wells that Hobbs Upchurch will design are expected to yield up to 500,000 gallons per day and cost the County approximately $1.2 million to bring into service.
The new water from Harnett County, along with the new wells, is expected to meet Moore County's water needs through 2030.
Revised Water Ordinances
The Board approved revised ordinances for Moore County Public Utilities and the East Moore Water District during Tuesday's meeting. Public Utilities Director Gould said the ordinances had not been updated in a number of years, and credited staffer Megan Owrey for managing the revision and the research that went into it.
Noting that the current Water Ordinance allows a fairly short window from the time bills are mailed to customers until a late fee is imposed, Chairman Picerno asked whether the new ordinance addresses that issue. Owrey explained that the new ordinance extended the window from fifteen to twenty-one days.
"I think that will alleviate a lot of the calls that we have," Picerno said.
In other Public Utilities business, the Commissioners:
• Accepted a $1.3 million zero interest loan from the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources to pay for the rehabilitation of a collapsed sewer interceptor near the Pinehurst traffic circle.
• Approved a $136,000 contract for the purchase of flow monitoring equipment for the County sewer system. Public Utilities Director Gould explained that some demonstration monitors had allowed staff to detect problems with pump timing. "You are confident you can save money down the road?' Picerno asked. "Yes,' Gould replied."
• Awarded a $136,000 contract to Lime-Chem for the purchase of lime slurry used to adjust Ph at the wastewater treatment plant.
Long-term Lease Proposed at Airport
At the request of Moore County Airport Executive Director Steve Borden, the Commissioners called a public hearing for Tuesday, August 6 on a long-term lease of a 28,669 square foot parcel of land at the airport to Time Saver Aviation, LLC, a private jet charter company.
Time Saver plans to construct a 100 foot x 100 foot hangar on the property. Lease payments for the land would total $7,167 annually and the company is seeking a twenty-year lease with a five year optional extension. At the end of the lease, the property and hangar would revert to County ownership.
NC General Statutes require a lease of greater than ten years to be treated in the same way as a sale of property. In this case, the County is using an "upset bid" process, which will allow a competing offer to be put forward prior to the August 6 public hearing.
Linden Lodge Seeks Support
Marianne Kernan, Executive Director of Linden Lodge, a home for men and women with a serious and persistent mental illness located in Aberdeen, asked the Board for support in four areas:
• Endorsing a letter to Governor McCrory opposing legislation that would require preauthorization of prescriptions for psychiatric drugs. Kernan said this adds a layer of bureaucracy between doctor and patient that will reduce patient compliance, which is critical for those dealing with mental illness.
• Offering support for an effort, still in the early stages, in which local Presbyterian churches may band together to create a safe place for those with serious mental illness to spend their day.
• Waiving solid waste disposal fees for material cleared from an area that Linden Lodge is transforming into a park that can be used by both Lodge residents and members of the wider community.
• Waiving the customary $50 fee that supporters of Linden Lodge and the Moore County Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness were charged when they recently staged a demonstration outside the Historic Courthouse.
"We will look at each of the four issues," Commissioners Chairman Nick Picerno assured Kernan." Linden Lodge is privately funded, and receives no financial Support from the County.
Information technology Director Darlene Yudell provided the Board with an update on the Virtual Computing Project, which allows county employees to log into their accounts on the County network and access their business applications from any computer.
Virtual computing also allows the County to purchase "thin clients" instead of fully capable desktop personal computers. Yudell said the thin clients cost $365 each, versus the typical $900 cost of a PC. Chairman Picerno noted that the expected life of a thin client is ten years, versus three or four years for a PC.
The Virtual Computing Project began six months later than expected, Yudell said, but has been consistently on track and under budget since. Users in eleven County departments are currently testing the system and, by year end, she said, "we will consider it normalized -- it is a part of our normal operations."
Yudell requested, and the Board approved, an amendment to the contract of the consulting firm assisting in the rollout of the Virtual Computing project reflecting the delayed start of the project.
In other business during their Tuesday, July 17 meeting the Moore County Board of Commissioners:
• Heard from Interim Tax Administrator Johnnie Emondson that the Tax office had achieved a 99.6 percent collection rate for Fiscal Year 2012-13, which he said is likely among the highest collection rates in the state. It is the twenty-second year in a row that the tax office has collected more than 99 percent of taxes due.
• Heard a progress report from the Animal Operations Board.
• Honored retiring 911 communicator Charles Radcliffe for his seventeen years of service.
• Recognized EMS, fire, and public safety personnel and volunteers who participated in a Public Safety Leadership Institute coordinated by Sandhills Community College.
• Called a public hearing for Tuesday, August 6 on the addition of four roads and the deletion of one from the County Road Naming and Addressing Ordinance.
• Tabled consideration of an agreement with the Town of Aberdeen and International Tray Pads and Packaging, Inc. that would award the company $15,500 in support of an expansion that will create thirty-three new jobs. Aberdeen would provide an additional $15,500, with both the County and Town contributions defraying the cost of connecting the company to the County's sewer system.
• Approved a contract with Sandhills Propane, Inc. for up to 53,200 gallons of propane at $1.309 per gallon for the FY 2013-14 budget year.
• Approved an $8,276 change order to a contract with Oral's Construction Company for the rehabilitation of a home near Carthage. Planner Tim Emmert said the discovery of mold and termite damage increased the cost of the project.
• Revised a project budget ordinance for single family housing rehabilitation program that will increase the County's share of federal funds from $160,000 to up to $500,000.
• Accepted $75,000 in federal funds for an urgent repair program that Emmert says is directed toward disabled, low-income homeowners, over the age of 62, and is used to install ramps, accessible showers, and similar accessibility enhancements.
• Amended a contract with cellular telephone companies that will have them cover the cost of installing cellular equipment on the two McLean Road elevated water tanks. County Attorney Misty Leland explained that the Village of Pinehurst has required a "stealth" design for the cellular equipment, increasing the cost by $226,000. A related revised contract with Utility Services Company, Inc. was also approved.
• Appointed Chairman Picerno the voting delegate to the Annual Conference of the NC Association of County Commissioners.
• Reappointed Max Muse and Bob Hunt as ETJ representatives to the Carthage Planning Board.
• Reappointed Theron Bell and Clara Bernicken to the Library Board of Trustees.
• Tabled the appointment of a Commissioner to the Department of Social Services Board.
Commissioner Randy Saunders was on vacation and did not attend Tuesday's meeting.