WILLIAMSON — The Williamson City Council convened in special session Monday, Jan. 27, to sign their approval of an application for the Region II Planning and Development Council to upgrade the city’s water system.

The topic was originally scheduled to be addressed during the council’s regular meeting Thursday, Jan. 23, but the meeting was canceled due to a lack of quorum. In order to meet the Jan. 31 deadline for submitting the paperwork, the council scheduled the Jan. 27 special meeting, where it was approved by council members and Mayor Charlie Hatfield.

Jessie Richards, a representative with Region II Planning and Development, presented the plan, which, according to Hatfield, helps with the application process for an infrastructure project to upgrade the city’s water and sewage system. He said this year’s Region II application applies only to the water system, which makes it more competitive than a larger application.

The paperwork the council and mayor approved includes the federal assistance application for the city to get funding from the USDA, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the Community Development Block Grant. Paperwork signed also included the professional arrangement agreement, which ensures several of the city’s legal, financial and engineering arrangements.

The city will use E.L. Robinson Engineering for such a project, Hatfield said.

Hatfield said the city’s water plant was built circa 1982 and the overall water system has numerous leaks.

“We spend a lot of money doing repairs and maintenance that the money we spend in repair and maintenance could actually afford a new one,” Hatfield said. “To kind of use this analogy … if you’ve got an old car, you spend more time keeping it in the shop than keeping a new car payment.

“This city hasn’t had infrastructure projects for a long time and right now, I’ve got a lot of them going with the highway department, and hopefully, we’ll get this with the water restructure/improvement program,” he added. “There’s just a lot of things that’s been neglected.”

Hatfield said he is proud water and sewage rates have remained lower while other utilities have increased. The water project alone — not counting sewage — will cost around $5 million to $6 million, he said.

“That will be done, in part, through grants and, hopefully, bonds,” Hatfield said. “We’re still exploring which vehicle to use for financing of it, but again, I can assure everyone, what we pay for repairs — a lot of that would offset the debt. It’s just common sense.”

Dylan Vidovich is a news reporter for HD Media. Contact him by phone at 304-896-5196.