The city council voted to approve going ahead with a study by SJB Group of Baton Rouge. The study will also include developing a written Distribution Integrity Management Plan. The DIMP is a pipeline regulatory requirement that has not been addressed by the Gas Department, stated Charles Wood of SJB Group in a letter to the council.
The feasibility study to see if the PVC pipe gas lines need replacing will cost the city $9,000, and the assistance with developing the DIMP will cost $8,500, Wood said. PVC pipes have been known to cause problems by leaking, Wood said.
SJB Group did an assessment of the city’s gas lines 13 or 14 years ago, and is looking to do a follow up to see if anything has changed and is in need of replacement, Wood said.
“Our proposal is intended to kind of refresh the review of these areas and see if new problems have occurred or if they’re basically the same or whatever,” Wood said. The group will develop updated cost estimates for potentially replacing the gas lines, Wood added.
Mayor Tim Matte cautioned that when doing a study, such as this one, the city needs to be prepared to fund replacements or improvements if those are deemed necessary, Matte said.
The council also approved an ordinance for the issuance and sale of refunding bonds to take advantage of lower interest rates. These bonds are the city’s auditorium bonds, Matte said.
“They’re about halfway through their life so this is refinancing the balance of those. We’re not extending the payments on these. They will mature within the same timeframe that we originally planned for them to retire,” Matte said.
The city will save $115,000 by taking advantage of lower interest rates today, said attorney Trevor Haynes of Foley and Judell law firm. The lowest bidder for refunding the bonds was at a 1.89 percent interest rate, Haynes said. The current interest rates on the bonds are at about 5 percent, Haynes said. The city will save about $14,000 a year due to the refunding of the bonds, and that money will be a direct savings to the taxpayers, Matte said.
The city has also been having problems with road work on Victor II Boulevard, said Public Works Director Mike Loupe. The city had laid 12-inch thick of limestone to build a better bed for the road, but the 12 inches will not be enough limestone because of the trees that are in the way, he said. “Every time you dig, you got trees. Trees were just cut laid there. The concrete was poured on top of it, and over the years, it’s all giving way now,” Loupe said.
The city is in the process of trying to determine what material to use and how to make sure the bed underneath road has a sufficient compaction rate, Loupe said.
“If we put the limestone down, and you start compacting it, then what happens is the soil, both the loose soil, the gunk underneath comes through. And it contaminates your aggregate, which you’re not going to get your compaction. So you have to have a bridge (between the road and bed underneath),” Loupe said.
The city council will meet for a short time on Jan. 14 to welcome in the new mayor and council, Matte said.