On Monday evening, Athens City Council met in committee to discuss city-wide improvements estimated to cost upwards of $361,000 as well as numerous dollar transfers between funds.
The City and Safety Services Committee met first to discuss a project to update the doors and security systems in all city buildings. The update would include replacing exterior doors to improve energy efficiency in addition to installing a swipe-activated security system, Athens Mayor Steve Patterson said.
At the beginning of the project exploration, the cost was estimated to be $150,000 to $200,000 but has now been increased to $361,000, Councilwoman Sarah Grace, D-At Large, said. That increase is due to the addition of more doors and buildings to the project than initially included, Patterson said.
Additionally, according to the current, unapproved contract with the project vendors, the city would be required to pay travel, lodging and living costs of those installing the doors.
Following a slew of questions from various council members, Patterson agreed to gather more information to bring back to Council at a later date.
The City and Safety Services Committee also discussed using $500,000 of the city’s American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, funding to initiate an internet fiber installation project. The project would take place in five phases, Patterson said.
That would allow the city to create higher connectivity between its building as well as begin moving away from using microwave technology for broadband, he said. There is a possibility of free wifi being available on Court Street as well if the project goes ahead, Patterson said.
Following City and Safety Services, the Finance and Personnel Committee met to discuss transferring multiple funds into the ARPA fund and back out to finance revenue gaps. The committee addressed concerns of the recent garbage fee increase being insufficient to cover revenue gaps in that sector.
Athens City Auditor Kathy Hecht reminded Council that although fee increases will help to make up for lost revenue, it will take time, and the city needs to be able to pay personnel throughout the year, requiring the transfer of funds.
The Finance and Personnel Committee also discussed appropriating $90,000 in membership dues to the Outdoor Recreation Council of Appalachia and $2,800 to install six new parking meters in the city parking garage.