By Nick Nunn staff writer

Madison City Council voted unanimously to approve and authorize the mayor to sign a contract with Gary’s Grading & Pipeline Company in the amount of $607,740 for wastewater drainage improvements in the Canaan area, pending staff and legal approval.

Madison City Manager David Nunn stated that the contract itself is “fairly typical.”

The wastewater project, which will be funded by a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) will have a 150-day time frame for completion once begun.

Nunn said that work on the project will begin immediately but that the city will hold off on portions of the project until school breaks for summer, so that traffic to and from the Morgan County Middle School will be disrupted as little as possible.

“We’re ready to go on this,” said Nunn.

Council Member Chris Hodges expressed that the city should keep the citizens that live in the area apprised of any closures that may occur during the construction process. “We’re going to work on communicating [with the public],” said Nunn in response to Hodges.

“We can put the word up.” Madison Planning Director Monica Callahan stated that signs with information about the project will be put up in the next few weeks. Mayor Fred Perriman stated that the project is “going to be such an improvement” for the Canaan area and that he “can’t thank the staff enough” on their contributions to the project.

Madison Finance Officer Karen Guinn informed the board that she would be receiving budget worksheets from the departments in the next few weeks and that the council will hold budget work sessions in late April and early May.

After the work sessions, there will be a public hearing before the adoption of the fiscal year 2015 budget, slated for June 9.

She also stated that the city is working on an intergovernmental agreement with the Board of Education (BOE) to transfer the responsibility of fiscal agency for System of Care to the BOE, as well as $63,000 in remaining funds dedicated to System of Care.

Police Chief Bill Ashburn gave a comparison of the police department’s statistics during the year before and the year since he has become chief, stating that an increased amount of traffic stops and warnings have led to a decreased number of accidents in the city.

“Our officers are doing a real good job,” said Ashburn.

Tripp Alsbrooks, of Alsbrooks Architects, Inc., gave the city council information on the upcoming “final build-out” of Madison’s public safety building at 160 North Main Street.

The final development of the building will include the construction of an assembly area with seating for a minimum of 100 for the council’s meetings, a break room, bathroom facilities, and additional space for the police department, which will eventually transfer to the building.

Alsbrooks said that there will be a second-story mezzanine of approximately 2,700 square feet for a “limited” office space and that an elevator will be constructed for access to the second story.

He also stated that a new topping slab would be poured in the area to be built out, and that the current roof will be covered with by an insulated panel system. Alsbrooks estimated that the build-out could take from seven to eight months, but that they will be “ready to send the documents out on the streets” for bids soon. Nunn stated that “the contract will be significant” but they are “doing as little as possible to the exterior” of the building.

He also said that there are funds allocated to this project from the current SPLOST as well as from the previous SPLOST.

“We have some sources of funds,” said Nunn.

The city council also heard a first reading of suggested amendments to the schedule of fees, including increasing the animal boarding fee to $5 per day from $3 per day, separating the natural gas deposit from the water deposit so that natural gas customers may begin to get their gas deposit back after 24 months of “flawless” payments, and an increase in zoning action fees to more closely offset the cost of service involved in those actions.

Additionally, the council an amendment to change their regular meeting schedule to include a single regular meeting on the second Monday of each month at 5:30 p.m. and a work session to be held on the Friday before the first Monday of each month at 8:30 a.m.