Bob Duncan, right, signs the oath to serve on the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission as Probate Court Judge Debra Godwin Duncan, who administered the oath, observes. Duncan unseated incumbent utility commissioner Cliff Adams in the 2018 midterm elections.

Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commissioners approved $1.04 million in upgrades Thursday to the Academy Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Initial estimates put the cost at around $650,000.

At the time the estimate was made, utility Deputy Director Andrew Burroughs said the goals of the project were to increase safety for plant staff, decrease loss of oxygen in the treatment process — which uses pure oxygen to speed up natural processes that break down sewage — and to replace old and install new monitoring technology to assist staff in operating the plant.

Accomplishing those goals was more expensive than anticipated, Burroughs said, but utility staff was able to negotiate two contracts worth $940,013 total.

Including a contingency fund and accounting for possible fluctuations in prices from expectations, Burroughs recommended adding $390,000 to the original estimate, bringing the total project budget up to $1.04 million.

Utility commissioners voted 7-0 on three motions, one to approve each of the contracts and another to assign $1.04 million to the project.

Commission Chairman Ben Turnipseed said the Academy Creek plant is essential to operating the public sewer system, and as such must be kept in good working order.

In other business, the commission voted 7-0 to accept ownership of water and sewer infrastructure and associated easements in the under-construction Silver Oaks subdivision, located on South Harrington Road on St. Simons Island.

The current process, in which developers submit an application and the commission formally accept, leaves a clear paper trail and prevents confusion as to ownership of the system and easement locations, said Engineering Director Todd Kline.

The subdivision is composed of 13 residential lots, according to its final plat. Kline said the water and sewer system is, overall, worth around $120,000.

Commissioners also elected new officers. Turnipseed and fellow utility commissioner Steve Copeland were unanimously elected chairman and vice-chairman, respectively.

Utility staff gave updates on ongoing projects and achievements reached in 2018, among other things.

The commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Jan. 24. An ad hoc committee of three commissioners — Tripp Stephens, Donald Elliot and Bob Duncan — will meet on Tuesday to discuss employee health insurance for the next fiscal year and the entire commission will hold a retreat at 1 p.m. on Jan. 23 to discuss major issues they expect to deal with in the coming year.

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