By Nick Nunn, Staff Writer

During the Sept. 23 called meeting of the Madison City Council, City Manager David Nunn outlined a plan for purchasing and installing rotary press sludge dewatering equipment at the city’s Southside wastewater treatment plant, which will cost an estimated $545,000 for the entire project. The council approved the plan unanimously.

Nunn stated that $250,000 had been budgeted this year for equipment and, had they had an accurate appraisal of the estimated cost of the project, they simply “would have plugged in a different number” as there will be enough funds available to cover the project. There will still be a need for a budget amendment, which will be taken care of at a later meeting.

Nunn described the rotary press equipment as “really amazing” and stated that, since the equipment will be able to remove much more water from waste sludge than the current system does, the city will have to pay less for hauling and disposal costs related to the leftover “solid” waste.

“[It is] quite expensive, but it is something we need to do,” said Nunn.

A memorandum from Burns & McDonnell, an engineering and design firm, stated that the vacuum pumps, which drive the current system, are already in need of replacement, and that the city spends approximately $140,000 yearly for operating and maintaining the current system and contracting out the disposal of the dewatered sludge.

The memorandum states that a rotary press dewatering equipment system would cost the least to operate and maintain, while producing a sludge with twice the solid content. It estimates a minimum annual cost savings of almost $40,000, meaning that the equipment could pay for itself within 14 years of installation.

Stratton Hicky, a member of the public, inquired into the life expectancy of the system and Nunn said that the operating life should be “well in excess of 10 years” later, adding that it would probably operate for 20-plus years.

“It will have to be serviced, but I don’t know how you could wear something like this out,” said Nunn.

The memorandum states that a price of slightly more than $362,000 has been negotiated for the rotary press equipment, which will be “provided within an easy-to-install container.”

The city will have to provide “piping, electrical service, a chemical tank, a new sludge pump, and other site work” to install and connect the rotary press equipment, leading to the total estimated construction cost of $545,000.

The council voted in favor of a memorandum of understanding between Robert A. Reynolds and the City of Madison, who will “furnish a vehicle for use as a Courtesy Car at the Madison Municipal Airport.”

Nunn stated that the city currently has a similar arrangement with the airport for one vehicle, but this memorandum will add a second vehicle, a 2008 Ford Crown Victoria, as a “frontline” vehicle.

The title for the vehicle will be transferred to Reynolds, who, in turn, will be responsible for maintaining and insuring the vehicle and providing it for its intended use.

Nunn stated that the vehicle would be for “public use” and that the city would have no liability, but said that he would inquire into whether the City of Madison would be named in the vehicle’s insurance policy.

Council Member Michael Naples asked Nunn if the vehicle would be housed behind the airport’s security gates and, if so, whether the security code would be given out to anyone who requested access to the car.

Nunn said that he wasn’t sure, but that “we can ask all those questions.”

The Madison City Council also approved the sale of eight items of property owned by the city, four of which will be sold at auction and four to be sold to a recycling facility.

A 1992 Ford Pickup Ranger, a 1993 Ford Pickup F153, a 1985 Chevrolet Truck 4×4 and a 1988 Dodge Dakota Truck will be sent to a recycling facility.

A 1986 Ford 8000, a 2000 Ford Crown Victoria, a 2008 Ford Crown Victoria and a surplus air compressor will be sold at auction. The auction will take place on Saturday, Oct. 26 at 9:30 a.m. at the Morgan County Agricultural Center, 2382 Athens Highway, Madison.

“We just want them off the books,” said Nunn about the items to be auctioned and sold.

A resolution to authorize the transfer of an antique cotton gin that was donated to the city was also approved.

According to the resolution, the cotton gin was manufactured in Madison in 1840 and was donated to the city by Gordon Farmer of North Augusta, S.C.

The city transferred ownership of the cotton gin to the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center where it will be housed for public viewing, as per Farmer’s request.

“It’s certainly going to a good place for a good cause,” said City Attorney Joe Reitman.

Finally, the mayor and council members held a brief executive session to discuss Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) litigation proceedings. No vote was held after the executive session.