A project to refurbish the Neuse River bank at the site of the water intake for the Town of Smithfield Water Plant has come in well over budget.
The project was approved in the current fiscal year budget at a projected cost of $200,000. However the low bid came in at $317,000 leaving a $117,000 shortfall. Public Utilities Director Ted Credle received approval from the Smithfield Town Council to use $117,000 in contingency Water Funds to make up the difference.
Mayor Pro Tem Travis Scott expressed concern about taking such a large amount out of the contingency fund so early in the fiscal year. It will leave only $180,000 in reserves through June 30, 2019 for water fund issues not in the current water fund budget. However, Town Manager Michael Scott expressed confidence the contingency funds would be more than adequate.
Credle said the refurbishment has to take place or the town could be in jeopardy in the future of having a problem with the water intake from the River. The intake structure is subject to sand and silt buildups and in order to clear the sand the Town contracts with a company to dredge the River around the intake.
Over the course of several years Credle said the river bank, through natural weathering events, has eroded to the point it is becoming nearly impossible to dredge. The project will fund the refurbishment of the river bank back to its original design and allow for easy access for future dredging operations.
“If we want water in this town it seems like we don’t have a choice,” Councilman Emery Ashley said.
Central Builders of Rocky Mount was the lowest of two companies that bid on the project. Credle said he hopes to work with the company to reduce some of the overall costs of the project to avoid taking the full $117,000 from the contingency fund.
The Smithfield Town Council unanimously approved the project and the expenditure.