GALENA - The contract is in the mail, and the town is about to be the owner of a property the mayor and council have long been negotiating for as part of its wastewater treatment plant project.
Galena Mayor Harry Pisapia announced at Monday's town meeting that a contract has been approved by the owner of the parcel, located between the town and its current treatment facility. The town is under state order to upgrade its plant.
Pisapia said the property owner initially asked for $50,000, but negotiations got the price down to $7,500. He said by acquiring the land, Galena will save another $23,000 by not having to run sewer lines around the parcel.
“I think that was a fairly good negotiation ... We ended up saving quite a bit of money,” he said.
Tom Yeager, the town's attorney, said the contract has been prepared and he was told that the copy signed by the owner was dropped in the mail Saturday. The council agreed to have Pisapia sign it upon its arrival at the town office, as well as any another documents at settlement.
“We have one more property that we're interested in, and we may be able to get that for a very low cost, or no cost,” Pisapia said.
The mayor and council are now holding workshops about the project at 6 p.m. the third Monday of every month. The last one was held with McCrone Inc., the engineering firm designing the new facility, about the company's contract.
“There's a few things we have to work through,” Yeager said.
Yeager's chief concern is McCrone's liability for any design errors requiring additional expenditures. He said the contract said McCrone would not be responsible to pay for any such work unless it exceeds 5 percent of the total cost, a threshold the attorney thinks is too high for multi-million dollar project.
Yeager asked the councilmembers to approve hiring a separate attorney – Dean Burt, who was recommended by former Town Manager Tom Bass – to represent the town in negotiations with Kent County over the cost-share portion of McCrone's contract. The councilmembers approved his request.
The county has agreed to move forward with its portion of the project, extending sewer lines to unincorporated areas near town, but will work with McCrone under the same contract as Galena.
Yeager also serves as the county's attorney and said, Monday, it would not be appropriate for him to negotiate Galena's percentage of the engineering costs with the county.
“Overall on the project, I can continue to represent the town in other aspects of the project,” he said.
Finances and Audit
Town Clerk Barbara Shaw said Galena's general fund has $622,799.76 and the utility fund has $359,180.04, leaving the total cash on hand at $981,979.80.
Pisapia said the annual audit of the town's books went well, with no real issues.
“We had a real good audit, again, no deficiencies at all, no findings at all,” he said.
Pisapia said one issue of note is the lack of segregation in accounting duties, an inherent problem for small towns. He said the auditors recommended all cash receipts and disbursements remain under close watch and be accompanied by supporting documentation, and all checks be double signed, which the town already does.
“So basically, we had no findings at all. Everything came out excellent, and I'm happy about that,” he said, adding that the town has never had a bad audit.
Kent County Sheriff John F. Price said there were 55 speed assignments conducted in Galena last month, with 69 warnings and 39 citations issued. He said there was one driving while intoxicated arrest, one drug arrest and five non-criminal calls for service.
For the town's special overtime patrols, Price said deputies performed 15 hours of vehicle patrol and four hours of foot patrol, with nine traffic warnings and six traffic citations issued. He said the drug arrest occurred during the special patrol.
Price said one deputy was stationed in Galena Oct. 30, Mischief Night, and two were in town for Halloween, with no major incidents reported for either night.
In Other Business:
- Pisapia said the State Highway Administration plans to remove the island at the intersection of state routes 213 and 290, and will be fixing other issues around town.
- Water and sewer bills went out late last month, which Pisapia said was due to Bass' retirement and difficulties with the installation of a new computer system.
- The town will hold its annual Veterans Day ceremony at about 9:15 a.m. Nov. 12 in the Galena Cemetery. This year, the town will honor former mayor Bill Briscoe, who served in the U.S. Army.