With the 2021 capital improvement budget approved by the Pell City City Council, many of the items approved for funding are of interest in the community. City manager, Brian Muenger, broke down the numbers and what money is going where.
The $2.52 million budget falls into five categories: Administrative, street, police, fire and parks & recreation.
The highlight of the administrative section of capital improvement are upgrades to the city’s computer system as the need for telework during the pandemic continues. The upgrades were approved for $126,000 with another $20,000 going towards software upgrades.
“It is very important that we stay on top of that,” Muenger said.
Additionally, Muenger took a keen interest in renovating a building at 111 20th St. that will be used to house community corrections. The project includes the destruction of the old St. Clair jail in Pell City and the construction of a new jail nearby.
The budget for renovations to the building was approved for $47,000. However, it is possible the costs could be offset by contributions from various agencies. Two bathrooms are expected to be added.
Other items approved for the budget include a downtown street light replacement in conjunction with a TAP project and an acquisition/relocation project for Hazelwood Dr. for $128,000.
Pell City residents will be pleased to know that money has been set aside to fix multiple faulty red-light loops throughout the city. Specifically, the red-light loop at the intersection of Highway 231 North will be fixed following the completion of a traffic study that revealed damage to the signalization loops.
According to Muenger, multiple other red-light loops are to be fixed as well, though none of the others were specifically identified. The fixing of the loops are combined with a couple other items, including the purchase of an eight-foot brush hog and the replacement of a generator, that total $108,000.
A $50,000 replacement of the railroad crossing at Benjamin Moore will also be in the works.
Additionally, multiple storms drains will be fixed throughout town for $30,000 while the city council approved the purchasing of a construction dump truck for $120,000 and utilities bed truck for $28,500.
Paving projects include the paving and widening of Dickey Dr., while Industrial Dr. will be paved pending an ALDOT grant.
Muenger and council president Jud Alverson made it a point of emphasis to make sure time-sensitive material were seen earlier by the council for approval. For the police, the purchasing of three patrol and two unmarked Tahoes met the requirements of time-sensitive items. Therefore, the budgeting for these items were approved earlier in 2020 for $178,000.
Much like the police department, the fire department saw many of their requests approved or presented before the council in 2020 rather than 2021. The purchase of a Sutphen aerial fire truck was deemed top-priority with a budget of $184,000 approved for it, with the rest of it being financed. According to Muenger, they will be picking up the truck soon, possibly in a couple of weeks.
Other items approved by the council for the fire department include the paving of the parking lot and driveways for station three and the purchase of a hydraulic rescue tool.
Parks & Recreation
Parks & Rec submitted more items for approval than any other department, and while not all of their items were approved, many were.
There will be upgrades to multiple walking tracks throughout Pell City, with the Lakeside Walking Track receiving repairs and renovations to its trails and walkways for $89,000.
The Avondale Walking Track will receive a new pavilion for $2,500. Originally, more upgrades were planned for Avondale, but with the city not having direct ownership over the park, it was decided to spend more money towards upgrades for the Glenn City Park. This park will see the addition of a bathroom facility budgeted for $65,000.
Furthermore, a camera system will be installed at the municipal complex at a cost of $15,000. A mini van will also be purchased and up-fitted for the senior center to use. It is budgeted for $26,500.
While many of the items were approved, other items were denied for specific reasons. For example, the purchasing of LED lighting for the sports complex was denied because it could become less expensive over time.
“As some items improve they will become cheaper,” Muenger said. “Just because we didn’t approve it doesn’t mean we didn’t like it.”
Muenger further stated that the driving factor in most of his decisions was based off needs for the city, rather than external factors such as Covid. However, Muenger does admit Covid played a role in the decision to upgrade the computer systems for telework, and that Covid has caused the city council to watch their budget “very closely.”