Purchased at auction from the Opportunity Center after sitting vacant for five years, the building houses the board’s construction and maintenance crews. Although the board bought the building for $100,001, General Manager Jim Miller said the purchase did not affect costs to rate-payers.
“The facility was paid for with savings we got from refinancing our debt,” he said.
Miller said limits on the refinanced savings do not allow the money to be refunded to customers or put into employees’ salaries. Rather, it can only be used for construction, which allowed the building to be bought and refurbished with “virtually no impact to ratepayers,” Miller said.
In fact, the move may help save money.
“Our savings (from) fuel cost will be substantial over time,” said Rodney Owens, assistant general manager of the board.
The center, which was relocated downtown May 1, puts the operations in a more central location to the board’s service area. After the service area shifted in 1999 with the board’s acquisition of the McClellan Waste Water Treatment Plant, workers often experienced long drive times.
“They spent a lot of time driving up and down Quintard Avenue,” Miller said. “It saves fuel and time for employees. Secondly, it decreases our response time to emergencies.”
Both of those changes should decrease costs in the long run.
“We think it’s going to have a pretty significant impact on our bottom line over time,” Miller said.
He added that bringing jobs back to downtown Anniston was also an important factor, noting that employees often buy breakfast and lunch downtown, helping local businesses.
“We tried to do what we could to bring downtown back,” he said.