AVON PARK — The cost to extend the city’s utility lines northward to the forthcoming Nucor micro steel mill is about double the initial estimate.
The city received a $971,500 grant to fund the water and wastewater infrastructure improvements, but the latest estimate has the cost much higher.
Mayor Garrett Anderson said Friday the initial cost estimate prepared by former utilities director Josh Turner was the basis for the grant application.
The new estimate for the project is between $2 million and $2.4 million, he said. The city’s new engineer, Ronnie Jones, and Polston Engineering worked together to develop the new cost estimate.
There were many standards that were not taken into account and some of the materials were not sized properly in the first estimate, Anderson said.
“It is unfortunate because the grant probably would have covered all of the costs, but that ship has sailed at this point,” he said.
There are some other opportunities to get some grant funding on it, but nevertheless it is going to cost the city more than what was originally anticipated.
It is still a viable project because the city will make a nice profit over the life of the line and it opens up future growth to that end of town, Anderson said. “I still think it is a paramount project to complete, it is just going to cost a little more than what we had anticipated.
“The city has more than $6 million in its infrastructure fund that is to be used for future projects, so we are well suited to take care of this project. Even without any grant funding we can handle it 100%.”
It just comes down to if the City Council wants to do the project or not, he said. “I think they would be foolish not to; that is really the only path forward for that entire end of the county. Ultimately, Avon Park will expand out to the county line, that may happen at the end of my lifetime, but eventually that is where it is going.”
Councilman Stanley Spurlock said other people will have to come up with some money for the project.
“The county wanted the city to do this. The county was in on some of it; they need to come up and find ways to find money,” he said. “They took some of the recreational money away from Avon Park to build the sheriff’s building. Let’s find other ways to do this pipeline. They need to help Avon Park,” Spurlock said.
Run the pipeline as far as the grant will pay for it and then let Nucor or whoever help the city, Spurlock said. He won’t spend $1.5 million on the utility line when the city has a lot of things that could use $1.5 million.