Morgan City wharf improvement project in the works

The City Council approved moving forward with renovating the city’s wharf on Berwick Bay.
(The Daily Review Photo by Crystal Thielepape)

The City Council gave approval Tuesday for engineers to move forward with the design and bid process of a project to replace the city’s existing wharf on Berwick Bay and extend the wharf to the south by almost 150 feet.
At Tuesday’s city council meeting, the council approved the city to proceed with the final design and bid phases of its wharf project, for which the city is already under contract for the design with engineering firm Moffat & Nichol. Engineers will go through a conceptual design phase over the next 90 days, Morgan City Mayor Frank “Boo” Grizzaffi said.
The improvements to the wharf will give it a more contemporary look and put some bumpers on the edges of the wharf, Grizzaffi said.
City officials are working to finalize the design of the project and will have to decide whether to use cut lumber or composite decking for the wharf, Grizzaffi said. The city will then add amenities such as electricity and sewer hookups by the water, he said.
The project entails replacing 836 feet of existing wharf on Berwick Bay at an estimated cost of $1.4 million plus an additional bid for 144 feet of new wharf extending from the existing wharf southward at a cost of about $200,000, Grizzaffi said. The project is being paid for by a $1.3 million Louisiana Recovery Authority grant, $150,000 from the Port of Morgan City, the mayor said. “Additional funds will be needed before ... the bid process is completed,” Grizzaffi said. “We feel we have located that additional funding.”
City officials are working with Moffat & Nichol to get an exact project cost, Grizzaffi said. Former Morgan City Wharf Committee member Luke Manfre, who has been involved in the project for seven years, said committee members have examined many different plans over the years and the time has come to move forward with the design phase.
The city’s audit for the year ended Dec. 31, 2013, was presented at Tuesday’s council meeting. In addition to what The Daily Review reported Monday on the audit report, Gerald Thibodeaux of Kolder, Champagne, Slaven & Company said though revenues were down in 2013 by about $408,000, or 1 percent, sales taxes and ad valorem taxes were up $826,000. “That’s a 10 percent increase, which is very, very good,” Thibodeaux said.
The cause of decrease in overall revenues was due largely to the city having a $4 million bond issue in 2012 that it did not have in 2013, Thibodeaux said. “On the revenue side, you could really say that revenues are on the increase here, which we don’t get to say a whole lot. What we say now is revenues are fairly stagnant, fairly flat, but here in the city they’re actually on the increase,” Thibodeaux said.
The city’s expenses are relatively flat with the exception of utility expenses, which is slightly up due to fuel surcharges, Thibodeaux said. Total expenses were down $686,000, or 1.8 percent, compared to 2012, he said.
“When we look at how the revenues compared in total against the expenses in total ... this year we had, citywide, about a $1.5 million excess of revenues over expenditures,” Thibodeaux said. “Over the course of five years, we’ve gone from a $2.3 million deficit to a $1.5 million excess,” Thibodeaux said.
The council also accepted the low bid to build three new cabins and two docks at Lake End Parkway in the amount of $907,000 to Legacy Construction Services in Rossville, Tenn.
Bracey Herin of Legacy Construction Services said the cabins could be finished in about six to seven months from the start date. Construction can begin as soon as the project gets state approval, Grizzaffi said.
Funding for the cabins is coming from state capital outlay money.
Morgan City Wastewater Plant Manager Murphy Arcemont said the city is planning to renovate the front part of the wastewater treatment plant. “It’s in real bad shape because of the hydrogen sulfide that comes into the plant,” Arcemont said. The city will replace concrete, metal, and one the major pieces of equipment at the site, he said. Workers will also replace pump valves. The estimated cost of the work is about $500,000, he said.
In other business, the council:
—Approved a resolution to sign a mosquito control cooperative agreement with the City of New Orleans.
—Approved signing a resolution to accept a $25,000 grant through the Local Government Assistance Program to change out water valves on the city’s main water line.
—Approved a resolution for the city to allow the Louisiana Energy and Power Authority right-of-way to run a water line from the wastewater treatment plant to the new LEPA power plant on Youngs Road.
—Approved a liquor and beer permit for Bobby’s Bar & Grill.

By ZACHARY FITZGERALD zfitzgerald@daily-review.com

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