By Martin Couch
Bryant finance director Gary Hollis let the Bryant City Council know that there was an $87,000 surplus in the General Fund on the city books that was available to use in construction of the Augusta Cove project.
Since Alderman Ed Collins won his lawsuit against the city, the Council voted[more] to appeal the judge’s decision on the $70,000 award to Collins and begin negotiations with Collins on reparations to his property. There are also others like Chris and Michelle Baker who want their yard put back the way it was before the flooding.
After city engineer Richard Penn brought up some solutions for the area, the focus of the Council was to see if the money was there to finance the project.
"It's more than the price of the whole project and that's the extent of it," Alderman Adrian Henley said. "We have the funds allocated and that's without making the negotiations with the lawsuit. We would have to put that in there also if we are going to do the lawsuit."
However, the Council can't negotiate unless they were willing to complete the project and restore the property.
"We can't do the project if we don't negotiate the part," Alderman Steve Gladden said. "Say we were going to do the $64,000 fix. Is this legal for us to do?"
The original plan described the installation of planned drainage for the Collins, Bakers and the street fixes were included in the $106,000, which was the total cost of the project.
"This would impact negotiations," said city attorney Nga Mahfouz.
But Gladden indicated that the project would have to be constructed anyway.
"We have to do it all as one," Henley said. "Take the money to negotiate to help do this project."
The Council would negotiate at the same time they appeal and work on a plan to finalize the project.
"From what I'm hearing, this is tied up with settlement negotiations," Mahfouz said.
"This would get things on track," Henley suggested. "The Bakers have also seen the lawsuit and they can take action to get their lawsuit unless it's fixed. We need to get things rolling and get a timeline on when it will be done."
Gladden said that it was time to decide what to do.
"We have danced around long enough," he said.
However, Mahfouz did not have a conflict about the Bakers and their situation, because there was no lawsuit filed by them as of yet.
"I would want something from them in writing to specify exactly what they want done and that there is not going to be any form of legal action if the project is done," Mahfouz said.
The price of the project will change because of extra utility and water lines in the area.
"It will change the pricing in those estimations of other relocations," Penn said. "If they want to include the fencing, I can flesh this out. Redstone came to us with the price of the pipe and it would cost more than the original $106,000."