LUMBERTON — The Lumberton Christian Care Center is one big step closer to breaking ground on its new facility on Second Street.
Construction of the emergency shelter and soup kitchen has been delayed because construction estimates came in over the project’s $1.1 million budget. Now, City Manager Wayne Horne says the center may break ground as early as July 1.
During a special meeting on Friday morning, the Lumberton City Council endorsed a $1,135,550 contract between Central Builders and the Christian Care Center. The council accepted a $1.218 million bid from the company in April, allowing city staff, the center and the architect to tweak the building design in order to lower costs.
To shed the $82,450, the center was cut from about 8,500 to about 7,000 square feet, according to Brandon Love, director of the city’s Planning Department.
Some bathrooms and a small conference area were cut and the size of the dining area was reduced. Changes were also made to the plumbing system, like switching copper for PVC and reducing the size of supply lines, Love said. A decorative portico, which can be added later, was also given the axe.
The council on Friday also voted to designate $345,880 in Community Development Block Grant money to the project. Another $526,983 will come from the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency and Lumberton Christian Care Center will contribute $262,707 that will come from grants.
Through the end of June, the Christian Care Center is seeking donations to furnish the 24-bed facility, pay a full-time administrator and outfit its kitchen. The goal is to raise $150,000 The existing facility on First Street feeds about 2,000 people each month in its soup kitchen.
According to Bob Caton, who is on the center’s board of directors, about $110,000 of that has been donated so far.
“We appreciate everybody who stepped up to our needs and have made donations,” Caton said.
The center is still in need of funding, especially for its kitchen.
“If anybody has a commericial stove or a commercial freezer we’d love to take it off their hands,” Caton said.
Caton hopes the contract approval will be the final push the center needs to meet its fund-raising goal.
“We’re a little concerned but I kind of feel like once the word gets out that we have a groundbreaking within the next couple of weeks, people will realize that, hey, we’re ready to go,” Caton said.
The council also voted to reduce electrical rates by 2.7 percent in order to offset an increased electrical sales tax imposed by the state. The council in March raised electrical rates by 3 percent.
The state recently eliminated a 3.22 percent wholesale tax that is currently built in to the rates electrical customers pay, but raised sales taxes on electricity from 3 percent to 7 percent. Those changes will take effect on electricity billed on or after July 1.
In other business, the council:
— Accepted a $80,000 grant from the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency for the city’s Urgent Repair program. The money will be used to help pay for emergency repairs in house owned by those with special needs and with very low or low income.
— Approved the designation of $200 in Community Revitalization Funds for summer youth programs in Precinct 2; $700 for Community Day in Precinct 7; $800 to Breath of Life Ministries for summer youth programs; $850 for summer youth programs in Precinct 5; $300 to Sandy Grove Summer Academy; and $250 to Iglesia Del Dios Vivo to go towards a variance application fee.
— Approved a schedule of meeting for City Council from August to June 2015.