The Town Council approved funds for three items totaling approximately $47,000 at its weekly public forum on Monday, addressing additional costs for drainage repairs, extra water and sewage maintenance materials and a new Department of Public Works vehicle.
All of the items, which were approved unanimously, will come from the town's general fund and were needed to address additional project costs and emergency procurements due to current necessities in the town's Department of Public Works, according to town staff.
"When we vote on items like this, we always like to see that they were necessary before we approve them," said council member George Lovelace during the session.
THE FIRST ITEM passed was an approval to spend about $13,500 for final costs incurred during a near $150,000 project to improve drainage in Westbriar Court. Due to underestimates in cost and residents' requests to remove trees that were damaged during the project, the town owed contractor Sagres Construction Corporation about $16,500 in additional costs.
But the town was able to save approximately $3,000 on those costs as a result of the efforts to organized a different contract for tree removal, according to Holly Chu, director of Public Works.
The project, Chu said, had to be undertaken because a concrete drainage ditch that was more than 20 years old had begun to deteriorate, due in large part to the roots from trees planted in its vicinity, she said.
"Part of the problem is that many homeowners plant trees along the easement and they don't realize that eventually the roots will grow and damage drainage ditches," Chu said. "So this makes more work for the town and Public Works."
The project, which began in the fall of last year, was completed last month.
AS A RESULT of a spike in water and sewage pipe bursts in town in recent months, due in large part to inclement weather, according to Chu, additional maintenance supplies were needed through an emergency procurement. HD Supply Waterworks, Ltd., received $17,500 to purchase the repair materials.
The fact that HD Supply Waterworks, Ltd., a division of the national hardware chain, Home Depot, was the only place available at a short notice for the supplies, as two previous town contractors had merged with the company, was discussed by council member Daniel Dellinger.
"Single sources for a contract raises a lot of questions," he said, "and I think it would be in our interest to see if we can find other sources out there in the future."
Town attorney Steve Briglia agreed and said that the town would try and locate other sources for competition in coming projects.
"Sometimes you don't know if there's a better bargain out there that you may be missing out on unless you look," Briglia said. "We will continue to post [bids] and see what else we can find."
A NEW PART-TIME Public Works inspector position added last year to deal with monitoring and limiting sediment erosion due to construction in town has created the need for a new vehicle for the department, the final budget item approved by the council. As the position, currently temporary, is expected to become permanent following budget meetings this summer, a fourth car had to be purchased to provide all public works field employees, including the director, with ready transportation to sites, Chu said.
"All of our employees spend a lot of time in the field, so car-sharing doesn't necessarily work in this instance," she added. "So we need the new car to allow [the new inspector] to travel freely to where he is needed."
The car, a 2007 Chevrolet Impala, was approved for purchase at just less than $15,000 from a R.K. Chevrolet in Virginia Beach, according to town documents.