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City may spend millions to save money
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The Hinesville City Council will soon decide whether to spend millions to conceivably save millions in a complex development deal.
As the wastewater treatment plant nears its July 1 completion, city engineer Paul Simonton and the city council have been approached by Ruby Collins Construction Co. offering them a deal to increase plant capacity from two million to four million gallons per day.
Since construction started, the master plans were changed to modify the plant so it could eventually take on a four million GPD payload. But Ruby Collins is now asking for an additional $8 million — bringing the total project cost to $30 million — to expedite the expansion and save the city money in the long run, Simonton said.
“The question is will the need come fast enough to justify the decision to make the full expansion now,” Mayor Tom Ratcliffe said. “We’ll have to measure what the growth rate projection is going to be against the time/value of money.”
Inflation could significantly increase the cost of the expansion, and, since it would cost $8 million at today’s rate, how much could it potentially cost five or 10 years down the road, he said.
Also, new environmental permits would need to be drawn up when the new plant opens — something that could also affect the financing of the deal, he said.
Either way, the council will have to make a decision soon as the proposal will only be on the table for a limited time.

In other business
• The council created a citizens focus group to enhance public awareness about the storm-water utility. The mayor and councilmen each appointed a member to the group. Ratcliffe appointed Clifford Johnson, Councilman Charles Frasier, Ricky Parks; Councilman David Anderson, Lee A. McGee; Councilman Kenneth Shaw, Corbin Wooding; Councilman Jack Shuman, Michael Santiago; and Councilman Steve Troha, Jay Osteen. The first meeting is set for 6 p.m. May 8.
• The city’s grants coordinator, Clarenda Stanley, asked for the approval of $162,000 in grants to buy 60 sets of personal protective gear for the Hinesville Fire Department.  
• City Manager Billy Edwards has been in contact with officials from the Georgia Department of Transportation who have assured him they are expediting the arrival of a new contractor who will finish the remaining work on Frank Cochran Drive.
Kenneth Shaw was absent from the meeting.

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