City board approves $6.1 million water department project

By David Skolnick

By David Skolnick


The city’s board of control approved a $6,133,600 contract with a Liberty company to demolish the water department’s nearly 100-year-old maintenance and vehicle garage and build a new one.

“The existing building is obsolete,” said Harry Johnson, appointed water commissioner by the mayor. He replaces John Casciano, who retired.

“We can’t keep all our vehicles in the garage so they sit outside. We have to jump [start] them,” Johnson said.

The garage on West Avenue is a former water- filtration building.

A.P. O’Horo Co. submitted the least-expensive proposal among the seven companies seeking to do the work. The city’s estimate for the work was $6,156,736 with A.P. O’Horo’s $6,133,600 proposal the only one for less than the estimate.

The board approved the contract Thursday.

The city is borrowing $5,725,000 from the state and paying the rest out of its water fund. The state loan has an interest rate of about 3 percent and would be paid back over 20 years.

The work will start in about two months and take a year to complete, Johnson said.

Mayor Charles Sammarone said at the meeting that he chose Johnson, the water department’s controller/office manager since Feb. 1, 2006, to serve as water commissioner. Johnson will handle the responsibilities of both jobs.

As controller/office manager, Johnson receives $65,613.60 in annual base pay. Casciano was paid $72,563.66 annually in base pay.

Sammarone said he was going to negotiate with Johnson, but likely keep him at his current salary.

Also Thursday, the board agreed to give a $20,000 grant to the owners of the Imbibe martini bar who are opening another bar on the second floor of its 124 W. Federal St. location.

The bar is expected to open next month and will sell more than 100 beers as well as high-end scotch and whisky.

The owner, SKA Limited LLC, is spending $198,914 on the new venture and expects to hire four full-time workers and 18 part-timers over a three-year period.

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