By Joe Lewis - Staff Writer
Oct. 24, 2012 — Details on the installation of new energy- efficient streetlights and the purchase of HVAC equipment for the old high school renovation project were revealed at last Tuesday’s Olive Hill City Council meeting.
The streetlights and HVAC units were purchased with grant funds awarded by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program (EECBG) which exists to help local communities undertake energy efficiency and conservation projects.
The EECBG is commonly referred to as a “draw-down” style grant, because funds are not disbursed to the awarded party until relevant services have been performed or purchases have been arranged.
Bryan Kirby of Community & Economic Development Associates, Inc. was on hand at the meeting to give the Council a progress report on the project and to present invoices for the purchased materials.
Kirby’s firm, based in Richmond, manages the $125,000 grant for the city.
Council approved grant expenditures in the amount of $29,083 for the HVAC equipment, $80,903.30 for the streetlights, and $5,500 in fees to Kirby for his administration of the project.
The grand total of funds expended at this point is $115,483.30, leaving $9,516.70 unallocated. It is unclear what project the city might undertake to make use of these excess funds.
According to Kirby, the city came dangerously close to losing all of the grant funding because procurement of HVAC quotes took an extraordinarily long time, which then delayed his ability to determine what funds would be available to purchase the streetlights.
Some questions arose as to the procurement procedure and the mayor’s authority to approve vendors without informing the Council.
Kirby reminded the Council that it had enacted a special procurement ordinance for block grants that afforded the mayor the ability to make the decisions in an emergency situation.
The potential loss of a $125,000 grant, to Kirby, constituted such an emergency.
“I’m just glad we didn’t lose the money,” said Council member Linda Lowe.
A majority of the streetlights have already been installed downtown and the HVAC units will be stored at the old high school building until the Olive Hill Historical Society can secure a bid that includes their installation.
Joe Lewis can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 286-4201.