BLDG Florence City Center

Florence City Center

FLORENCE, S.C. – The city of Florence is expected to take a step toward automating its meter reading today at a city council meeting.

The council is expected to consider Bill No. 2019-27 for a first reading at the meeting. The bill makes for the terms and conditions needed to issue water and sewer system refunding and capital improvement bonds to fund the automation of the city’s water and sewer meter reading over the next three to four years.

According to the ordinance, the city issued $67,995 million in capital improvement bonds through the Build America Bonds program on May 4, 2010. The Build America Bonds were partially subsidized by the federal government, leaving the city with an effective interest rate, not including inflation, of 4.06%.

Interest rates, which are set by Federal Reserve policy, have decreased since those bonds were issued.

Thus, the city can refinance the bonds at a lower rate. A 2.91% rate is projected, saving $6.13 million on the remaining 20-year life of the bond.

The savings and issuance of new bonds will allow the city to fund the automation of its meter reading systems. The cost is estimated at $10 million. The new bonds are projected to have an interest rate of 1.84%.

The replacement of the meter reading system was laid out for the council at a budget work session on April 29.

Among the benefits of this plan are the elimination of manual meter reading, elimination of re-reading, improvement of bill accuracy, a reduction of lost revenue, a reduction of staff to support the meter reading program and access to real-time usage information to detect leaks and problems before they become major.

According to the ordinance, the cost savings on the project are projected at $11.5 million over a nine-year period.

At the meeting, the council also is expected to hear from Sonyetta Cooper of the Mayor’s Coalition to Prevent Homelessness about the No One Unsheltered program and recognize the city’s recreation department athletes and coaches.

Today’s agenda also includes the first reading of Bill No. 28-2019, which adds $3.45 million in expenditures to the city’s general fund to cover the acquisition of up to 20 new police patrol vehicles, for neighborhood redevelopment, the acquisition of equipment and supplies required for the new Farmer's Market facility, the acquisition of a William H. Johnson sculpture to be placed at the East Evans Street breezeway entrance, a one-time donation to the Naomi Project for facility repairs, the acquisition of property located at 126 and 130 North Coit Street, the initial phase repairs, improvements and renovations at the Timrod Park museum facility, and equipment and supplies for a children's museum to be located at the former ScienceSouth facility.

Also on the agenda are the second readings of two bills to annex and zone property located at Howe Springs Road and Canal Drive and property on West Palmetto Street owned by Lions Investment Group. The other bill scheduled for second reading is the transfer of road right-of-way to the South Carolina Department of Transportation.

On the agenda for first reading are bills to prohibit busses and trucks along portions of Third Loop Road and a bill authorizing the conveyance of unspecified property.

Two resolutions are on the agenda for redevelopment grants in the downtown area and authorizing City Manager Drew Griffin to enter into an agreement with Florence County for building code administration for city property in the county and county property in the city.

There are four items on the agenda for discussion during executive session: a proposed economic development project in the Historic District, an unnamed economic development project, contractual agreements for recreational design services and proposed contractual agreements for the sale of city-owned property and the purchase of property to build two fire stations.

The meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m today at the City Center, located at 324 W. Evans St.

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