Council Members Approve Bond Sale and Bridge Work

Now that Wheeling City Council has voted to sell about $40 million in bonds for a brand new water treatment plant, City Manager Robert Herron expects dirt to be moving on the project by early August.

The vote during council’s recent meeting was unanimous, and council is expected to award the contract to Dayton, Ohio-based Shook Construction at its next meeting May 7. That firm was the low bidder among seven firms seeking the opportunity to build the plant.

Herron said the bond sale should take place in late May or early June. That’s when a 53.1-percent water rate increase needed to fund the project would take effect, raising the average residential customer’s monthly water bill by about $10.

The general construction contract is for $30.55 million. The remainder of proceeds from the bond sale would cover closing costs, capitalized interest and contingencies.

The new plant is expected to take at least two years to build, and will be located near the existing facility in Warwood. The contract includes demolition of the existing plant, which is 90 years old.

In other business, council voted unanimously to reprogram about $219,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funding from the 2011-12 fiscal year for replacement of the Schenk Street Bridge in Fulton. That money had been earmarked for curb and sidewalk repair on Wheeling Island and in Center Wheeling, but city officials said the bridge, which is one of only two access points to the area of Wheeling known as the Peninsula, is in dire need of repairs.

Herron said the West Virginia Division of Highways has agreed to fund the remainder of the estimated $600,000 to $700,000 project.

Council also approved continuing the city’s current levy rate of 20.98 cents per $100 valuation for Class II property and 41.96 cents per $100 for Class IV property, as well as the abandonment of a portion of Lane 17 in Warwood. That will allow Progressive Bank to proceed with the demolition of its branch and construction of a new, more modern-looking building in its place.

And council also voted to authorize the city’s participation in the Northern Panhandle Home Consortium Program in the upcoming fiscal year. The federally funded program provides down payment and closing cost assistance for first time homebuyers based on their income level.