GREEN COVE SPRINGS – In its first meeting of 2018 the Green Cove Springs City Council made moves toward improving its electric utility in the New Year.
In the first of two electric company-related agenda items, the council heard the first official reading of a proposal from City Attorney Jim Arnold and Manager Danielle Judd that would, if passed, allow the city to borrow up to $10.7 million to fund improvements to its electric system. The potential loan would go toward the city’s capital projects, which have already been planned through the next few years. Should the city actually borrow money, it would be out of necessity due to the fact that most of the repairs are high priority and need to be completed as soon as possible.
“You could decide to not do that entire amount,” Judd said. “But I would recommend you to not exceed that [$10.7 million] outer limit.”
The council will have a second reading of the ordinance at its Jan. 23 meeting, and concerned members of the public or those with questions can attend in order to address council before the vote. Should council vote to pass the ordinance after the second reading it wouldn’t be any indication they are borrowing money, only providing them with the option to do so if it is deemed necessary.
“What we’re, in essence, doing here is taking a number of capital projects that are slated for out years and we’re bringing them in to get them done faster which will improve the reliability of the electric in the city,” Mayor Mitch Timberlake said. “This ordinance is basically authorizing us to start that process.”
Council member Steven Kelley requested that before the city borrows any money that the city’s electric utility management company, Hooper Corp., would go through the list of projects slated for capital projects in the coming years and prioritize those from highest to lowest. This, according to Kelley, would allow council members to see which projects would need the most attention, and which ones might not be urgent enough to warrant borrowing money for their completion.
Immediately following the unanimous vote to push that item through to second reading, Danielle Judd presented an option to the council for a new position within the city’s electric utility – a Utility Line Locator.
“The thought would be that this would take this off of the operators and the linemen,” Judd said.
This position would free up the rest of the electric employees from taking time out of other projects and calls to do line locates for various purposes such as construction or digging. The position is expected to pay just over $30,000 per year, shared between the city’s utilities, and, after the 5-0 vote to add the position, will be open for applications soon. Judd and Assistant City Manager Mike Null said they expect the position could be filled through an internal promotion.
In other business, council members heard a year-end report from last year’s operations at the newly-remodeled Spring Park Pool and voted to approve suggested hours of operation for the 2018 swimming season.
Last year got off to a late start as the city waited until June for the pool’s construction to be completed, which was well after the initial proposed deadline. However, the pool still saw just under 10,000 visitors and brought in about $26,000 in revenue.
Going off last year’s schedule, staff recommended similar pool hours for this year. The board voted unanimously to approve the suggested hours which will see the pool’s operation season going from May 1 to Oct. 1.
Starting in May, the pool will be open 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. on weekends only until Memorial Day, on May 28 when the pool will be open the same hours but every day of the week excluding Mondays when the pool will be closed for cleaning and maintenance. This daily schedule will continue through Labor Day, Sept. 3 when the pool reverts back to weekends-only through the end of the season on Oct. 1. The splash pad will be open free to the public daily from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. just outside the pool fence.
The pool will continue to be made available for special events throughout the season, and the pass program from last year will return. Judd also mentioned that she had a conversation with someone in Green Cove Springs who had offered to underwrite this year’s swim lessons so that kids can learn to swim in Spring Park at no cost. Lessons and other extraneous details for this year’s pool offerings will be hashed out as swim season gets closer.