Tri-City Ledger -

By Gretchen McPherson
Ledger Staff 

Century pays $10K to CSI, eyes water funding


April 9, 2020

The town of Century will pay $10,000 to City Services, Inc., (CSI) to settle litigation and approved a wastewater facility plan following Monday night's phone council meeting.

The original lawsuit brought against the town by City Services, Inc., a natural gas consulting firm the town used for it's natural gas utilities, sought damages of more than $19,000 reflecting the past due amount plus pre-judgement and post-judgement interest, attorney's fees, court costs, and other fees associated when CSI's services were improperly terminated last August.

Century Mayor Henry Hawkins mailed a termination letter to CSI thatt the company said was five days early and that Century gas Superintendent Walley Kellett and Florida Gas Utilities (FGU) were in place to do what CSI had been contracted to do, although they were not really reliable.

“Bad documentation is what killed us,” said Hawkins. “My guys in the gas department all had qualifications that were expired and CSI was not reliable in assisting us to get those up to date. So it was time for a change.”

Hawkins said FGU has been helping the town for about two years now, following Kellett’s resignation and before, and he is pleased with their performance.

City Manager Vernon Prather recommended paying the $10,000, which would release the town from future litigation pertaining to the case.

“You may remember that the town council authorized the town's attorney and (Century's former interim city manager) “Buz” Eddy to negotiate on behalf of the town,” said Prather. “Through those negotiation efforts, we've reduced that down to $10,000. Our attorney advised our case wasn't not very good, so we should stick to settling because we would spend more on attorney fees than what we could settle for.”

He said CSI had already signed the settlement agreement. All they needed was the council's approval, the mayor's signature and a check for $10,000.

Councilman Luis Gomez made the motion, which was seconded by Councilwoman Sandra McMurray Jackson to approve to pay $10,000 to City Services, Inc. The motion was approved unanimously.

Next, in addressing the water system asset management plan recommended by Florida Rural Water to the town council last summer, Municipal Engineering representative Dale Long reminded the town that at the end of 2019, the council authorized and passed a resolution to accept the asset management plan in order to get State Revolving Fund (SRF) monies and to accept the preliminary engineering report.

“Those two documents go hand in hand,” said Long. “They address the urgent waste water issues the town is facing at the wastewater treatment plant and throughout the collection system.”

Long said the executive summary is a snapshot listing all proposed repairs at the plant and within the system, which will be a total of about $7 million.

He said they are going to break it into four smaller pieces. The first phase was a sludge press at the wastewater treatment plant and rehabilitation of the industrial park lift station and Pilgrim Lodge Church lift station, hopefully to finish by June. Long said they hope that a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to complete construction by summer.

The second phase will be a large phase, costing about $4.5 million, to finish the rest of the work at the wastewater treatment plant work, including rehabilitating the rest of the lift stations, add a generator and bar screen at the prison to screen trash out of the sewage. This phase will be funded by SRF and United States Rural Development (USRD), and they hope to start in the fall.

The third phase is a study of the sewer collection system.

“Although there are no specific problems identified, a study would come up with any problems so we can plan to fix those and find the funding to do so,” said Long.

The fourth and final phase is to implement a plan of action to fix those.

Funding for all these phases come from SRF, federal allocation coming through the Department of Environmental Protection and through the USDA Rural Development.

“Given the size of Phases 1 and 2, we don't want to be $7 million into doing work for the town, thats a lot of money to manage.” “The collection system is the least of our problems at this point,” said Long. “Phase 1 and Phase 2 will address the pressing issues, and get DEP satisfied and eliminate the sanitary sewer overflows at lift stations you see and the potential consent order at the plant.”

Councilman Ben Boutwell asked about the grants involved and wanted to make sure Town Planner Debbie Nickles was involved in the grant process.

Long told the council Phase 1 will be funded with a CDBG grant, with consultant Robin Phillips assisting, and it will be a 100 percent grant. Phase 2 will be funded by SRF and Rural Development 90 percent grant, 10 percent loan, then paid back with money coming from county, which will be between $400,000 and $500,000. Long said he hoped it will be no money from the town's pocket.

Councilman Luis Gomez made a motion which was seconded by Councilwoman Jackson to approve. The motion was approved unanimously.

In other business, the council:

-Approved three resolutions to amend the inter local agreement between the City of Gulf Breeze and the Town of Century to issue a possible $104 million in bonds for three projects, two charter schools and a senior assisted living facility in Florida, that will bring the town a total of up to $41,600 in fees through the Capital Trust Agency.

-Approved memorandum of agreement between the town of Century and the Community Action Program to provide assistance to help residents pay utility bills if they meet eligibility requirements.


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