In the immediate future, Sweitzer Engineering Vice President Trent Lard said, the city needed to approve an engineer’s contract, a legal services agreement and acquire interim financing.
That last issue sparked the most discussion within the council. Lard explained the interim financing, usually acquired through the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority or a bank of the city’s choice, would grant the city a loan in the total amount approved by the USDA and, once the funds were completely expended, the USDA would cover the interim loan with its funds.
Council member Harold Posey asked if the interim financing was designed to get the project off the ground before USDA funds were available. Lard said that was not the case.
“As soon as the funds are expended, the USDA covers the loan and pays it back to the bank,” he said.
While the council questioned him on why an interim loan was needed, Lard said he could not speak for the USDA or its reasoning.
Lard also informed the council Kingston had been approved for the USDA loan.
Later in the meeting, council member Edward Miklas asked the council to consider purchasing land for the water project during its next meeting. Lard asked the council to put off that decision.
“I would ask that we wait on that until we get into the design because, first off, we want to nail down exactly what it is we’re going to design out there and exactly where it needs to be located,” he said. “... All the agreements need to be signed and into [the] USDA and the funding put into place before we start engineering.
“In other words, we don’t just start doing engineering and incurring costs until everything has been approved and funded. Then, once we begin the engineering process, it would probably be a good idea for us, once we come up with some preliminary sites, to sit down with the council and get your input on where you would like us to pursue land acquisition. But the exact place we might need depends on what we end up designing.”
The council, led by Mayor Pro Tem Louise Howell, also discussed giving Billy Baker a raise. Baker, who performs water tests and sometimes repairs on behalf of the city, asked for a raise to compensate for rising gas prices. City Clerk Michele Jones thought Baker last received a raise in 2008. The issue will be on the council’s regular meeting agenda.
Other topics discussed during the comment period of the meeting included setting a weekly schedule for police service within the city and agreeing that city council members will communicate with the city attorney through Jones or Mayor Ron Casey.
The Kingston City Council’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 14, at 7 p.m.