City Council

Magnolia Mayor Parnell Vann speaks during Monday’s Magnolia City Council meeting.

The Magnolia City Council on Monday voted unanimously to accept a $2,289,902 million bid to replace aged cast-iron water lines with new, non-corrosive main lines throughout the central, northern, and western portions of Magnolia.

The winning bid was submitted by RBIS LLC of TEXarkana.

The bid was recommended by Andy Franks, owner of A.L. Franks Engineering, who has spearheaded the city's water line replacement project.

The winning bid was the lowest submission by over a million dollars. The only other competing bid came from the northeast Arkansas-based Krypton Developments at $3,699,979.46.

“Obviously, they weren’t as interested as RBIS,” said Franks.

The winning bid was within $30,000 of A.L. Franks Engineering’s estimate for the project.

The water line issues were first reported early last year after multiple complaints of discolored water in central portions of Magnolia. The cast-iron water lines were found to be the cause, due to decades of corrosion buildup, also known as tuberculation.

Main water lines are now set to be replaced around the areas of Lawton Circle, Highland Circle, Hazel, Joy, Partee, Monzingo, Calhoun, West Main, Kelso, North Height, Virginia, Ross, Doris, Clay, Pecan, and parts of South Madison, South Washington, and South Jefferson.

“We’re looking at the worst of the worst at this time,” said Magnolia Mayor Parnell Vann.

With the low bid accepted Monday, Franks expects the project to begin within 60 days. The civil engineer estimated the work to last 360 days, weather permitting.

The new lines will be laid in city ditches. If any private property is affected during the line replacement process, the city will fix the damage.

“We’ll put your property back the way we found it,” Vann said. “If we tear up a driveway, cut up a yard -- we’re going to put you back and get you fixed up. So, don’t panic and think we’re going to leave it there.”

If any project funds are leftover, the city will begin working on additional streets, according to the mayor.

The pay for the project, the council voted unanimously on Monday to refinance a 1999 City Water Resource bond from 3.5 percent interest to 2.18 percent interest and extend the payments an additional two years to generate the extra $1.5 million needed to fund the line replacements.

By refinancing and extending the bond, yearly payments will also be lowered by approximately $30,000, according to Jason Holsclaw, senior vice president at Little Rock-based Stephens, Inc. The bond is now set to be paid off in December 2034.

“Lower interest, lower payments, lower terms,” said Vann, “In this unknown environment, we want to play it safe, and we’d rather push (the bond) out a little bit and lower the payments because we don’t know what’s going to happen.”

If the council had not elected to refinance and extend the bond, the city would have been forced to borrow the additional $1.5 million needed to complete the project, according to Holsclaw.

In other Magnolia City Council news:

-- A $585,000 low bid was accepted from Milton Hambrice Construction of Magnolia to remodel the former SAU Tech Welding Academy at the Harvey Couch Business Park and retrofit it to house the Magnolia Police Department as its main station. Stipulations in the bid called for all materials to be purchased in Magnolia, according to Vann. If LED lights are used at the new MPD station instead of traditional lighting, an additional $20,000 could be added to the bid, according to MPD Chief Todd Dew.

-- A special Magnolia City Council meeting was tentatively set for Aug. 13. The meeting will be held to vote on the lease agreement between the newly-formed 501(c)(3) nonprofit Magnolia Regional Medical Systems Inc. (Magnolia Regional Medical Center) and the city of Magnolia. The city owns the building that the hospital will occupy.

The process of gaining nonprofit status for Magnolia’s hospital has been underway since May 2019. The lease agreement is the final step in the transition from MRMC’s city-owned status to its new nonprofit corporation. The move away from city ownership was made to generate an additional $750,000 per year in federal insurance reimbursements, thus increasing the financial health of the facility.

-- Dr. Scott White was appointed to the Magnolia Planning Commission. The vote was unanimous among the council.

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