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Water, sewer lines come in under budget

SOCIAL CIRCLE -- The construction of water and sewer lines and a water tank to serve the newly built General Mills distribution facility is expected to come in around $200,000 under budget, according to Social Circle officials.

Social Circle City Manager Doug White said the total project -- completed under three separate contracts -- was budgeted to cost $1.6 million. He said it is expected the water and sewer line project will be completed for approximately $1.4 million.

The utilities will service the 1.5 million-square-foot General Mills distribution facility on East Hightower Trail. The construction of the water and sewer lines began in January, White said.

General Mills celebrated its official opening Wednesday with a ribbon cutting. The first shipment of product is to be delivered to the Social Circle facility Monday.

The General Mills facility is the second large distribution center to locate along East Hightower Trail. Solo Cup opened a 1.3-million-square-foot distribution center in 2006.

Social Circle secured a grant for federal stimulus dollars from the Economic Development Administration to fund the utilities project. As a condition of the grant, the city was required to contribute 20 percent matching funds, or $280,000.

Ronnie Wood, water engineer for Social Circle, reported to the City Council last Tuesday that the construction of the water line is completed and submitted a negative change order for the final cost.

Wood said the water line to General Mills, which is a little more than 1 mile in length, was contracted with R.M. Anderson and Allsouth Construction to cost $542,378, but was completed for $423,610.96, resulting in a savings of $118,767.04.

White said Thursday the construction of the 200,000-gallon water tank and the sewer line are nearing completion. He said once permanent pumps for the lift station are delivered, hopefully in June, those projects can be closed out, too.

White said he would like to use the savings to expand sewer service in Social Circle, and will be meeting next week with officials with the EDA.

"We're still sorting out the accounting and who will get the leftover funds," the city manager said. "It's mostly stimulus money, and they want you to create jobs with that money, so we're going to ask if we can direct those funds for another sewer project."

White said city leaders would like to extend sewer service toward the northern part of the bypass, near property the Social Circle City Schools has identified as a location for a new school.

"This is an unusual situation because it's stimulus money, and the whole basis for the grant is to create jobs, so if we can extend sewer, it would open more areas for development, and we're hoping they will allow us to do that," he said.

In other news, the City Council appointed two members to the Planning and Zoning Commission. Florene Phillips will fill the seat held by her late husband, Jimmy Phillips, and Alfred Mauldin will fill the unexpired term of Frank Sherrill, who resigned earlier this year.

The Council also agreed to contribute $6,000 again this year to the Social Circle Boys & Girls Club.