Florala seeking funds to finish sidewalk project

Published 12:18 am Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Florala is one step closer to securing funding for the second phase of its sidewalk project, Mayor Robert Williamson said Monday.

“I’m pleased to say we’ve been awarded the money for Phase II of the sidewalk project, but the question remains if it’s going to require a match from the city,” he said

Williamson said there are two “pools” of money from which the grant funds can be drawn — stimulus money and standard grant money from the Alabama Department of Transportation.

“Since we have plans already submitted for the second phase, we’re hoping it will be funded by stimulus money,” he said. “If that’s the case, then it would mean a 100 percent grant and require no matching funds from the city. I understand we’re at the front of the line.”

Preliminary figures estimate it would save the city roughly $71,000 if the city is awarded 100 percent of the project’s $358,000 cost, he said.

“Which would help the city tremendously,” he said. “We’re thankful — not only for the previous (Florala city) administration who initiated the grant, but also Speaker (of the House) Seth Hammett and Sen. Jimmy Holley for their help.”

The first phase of the project, which was on Fifth Avenue beginning at Stateline Mini-Mall and continuing to Simply Chic, was completed earlier this year. Funding for the project was originally awarded to the city in 2004 by the Alabama Department of Transportation Enhancement and required a 20 percent match from the city.

Phase II of will continue with the rebuilding of sidewalks through the next block east, Williamson said.

If the project requires a 20 percent match, city officials can utilize monies from a recently financed bond indenture.

Matt Parker of Joe Jolly and Associates also spoke Monday about the $1 million in “new money” the city will receive on May 5. The council agreed in March to take advantage of low interest rates to refinance a general obligation warrant from the early 1990s. The new GOB warrant is a 30-year note carries an annual payment of $99,120, Parker said.

“That money will be deposited into the bank on May 5 and must be spent within three years on only capital improvement projects,” he said. “It made perfect sense for the city to refinance since the rates are much lower.”

In other business, the council:

approved ordinances regarding signs, mobile homes and building permit fees.

gave Jimmy Stewart’s Auto Electric until June 9 to comply with the city’s derelict structure and public nuisance ordinances.

agreed to compare the city’s animal ordinance to one regulating pit bulldogs, at the request of Councilman Danny Thames.

heard from Martha Spencer during the public comments section in regards to her property on Fifth Avenue next to First Baptist Church. Spencer stated she had received a notice from the city regarding the condition of the property and wanted to inform the council of her progress with the property.