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Valley council discusses positive financial report

VALLEY — The Valley City Council had a work session Thursday evening to discuss the third quarter financial statement.

“Month over month, our sales tax is up some $298,000 over last year,” Mayor Leonard Riley said.

“It’s amazing. We could break $400,000 before this year is over with. We have been up $200,000 a year for three of the last four years.”

Fees from business licenses and rental taxes are up as well. Business licenses are up by approximately $37,000 and the beer tax up by $6,000.

“I don’t know what’s going on with that,” joked the mayor. “That hasn’t been up in years.”

“Must have been a whole lot of stress going on,” joked back Council Member Jimmy Gilson.

Riley thanked local people for spending their money at home.

“They know we will spend that money locally on infrastructure improvements,” he said.

The city’s total revenue was at $9.6 million for 2017, $10.1 million in 2018 and is projecting $10.3 million this year.

The city is also seeing the benefits of Valley EMS now being with the East Alabama Water, Sewer and Fire Protection District.

“East Alabama has purchased two new ambulances this year,” Riley said. “One of them cost $246,000 and the other $275,000. We couldn’t have done that in a single year. They are running as many as three ambulances at a time, and that’s good. We were losing as much as $400,000 a year when we had Valley EMS.”

Riley said the city is continuing to see benefits of having its 911 service consolidated with the Chambers County dispatch center in Huguley.

“We are starting to see development with the John Soules Foods project,” the mayor said. “They will soon start work on a pre-treatment plant and will be working inside the building in August.”

Riley commended the Public Works Department on having done good work in clearing land that’s been purchased by the city in recent years. Riley added that somewhere between 90 and 100 acres of timber on the Combs property had yet to be harvested. That could bring in about $80,000.

Bids have been opened on a new water tank that will be going up on the city-owned property near Rehoboth Baptist Church. The tank will rise some 140 feet off the ground and will cost in the $1.4 million range.

A contract to build it could be awarded on Monday. A bid for a new pump house has been delayed but could be awarded in the near future. There’s approximately $4.8 million in an existing bond fund. This will cover the costs for the new water tank and pump house.

The new tank and pump house is needed to improve water pressure on the 1,150 acres purchased by the city. Riley said there are some industrial prospects looking at sites on that land.

One issue the city is turning immediate attention to is to do some serious road work on Valley Industrial Drive. This will be the major project of next year’s paving. The city is expecting to spend approximately $1.6 million on road paving in 2019-20. Industrial Drive is a four-lane road but will be limited to two lanes when the work is taking place. When one two-lane section is finished, work will begin on the other two-lane road.

Riley said that Chambers County Highway Engineer Josh Harvill had looked at the road and determined that there were problems with its base and that it needed to be fired up, especially if it was going to have a lot of industrial traffic.

Some road striping will be taking place on Fob James Drive in the coming year.

Mayor Riley said the recent PoolPak installation at Valley Community Center had gone really well. The new equipment cost around $240,000, duct work cost $16,000 and the use of a crane $9,500. Altogether, the project cost much less than originally expected.