The Board of Commissioners for the Mobile Area Water and Sewer Systems voted Monday to extend a $500,000 contract for manhole rehabilitation.

The price on the contract is up about $109,000 from a previous total of $390,590, but allows for the spraying of a special coating that helps prevent the eroding of the brick and mortar that make up the majority of manholes along the MAWSS system, said Assistant Director Les Brown.

Brown said the contract would allow for the rehabilitation of manholes affected by the release of hydrogen sulfide gas. He said the majority of the manholes, which are placed about every 400 feet along the system, are made of brick covered by mortar and some could be 60 to 90 years old and are expensive to replace.

The board also voted to give employees Winn-Dixie gift cards, in lieu of 2014 holiday bonuses. The cards will be valued at $40, but will cost MAWSS $38 each for its 394 employees.

The board voted to allow Southern Turf Management out of its $48,000 contract to cut grass on several parcels of land belonging to MAWSS. The areas affected include the Springhill tank and reservoir, Mississippi Street tank, Old Shell station, Springhill Plaza Court, Grelot tank, Hillcrest tank, Cottage Hill station, Cottage Hill tank, Island Road tank, Eslava Creek plant, Eslava lift station, Ziebach plant, Hamilton Boulevard booster station, Stickney plant, West Bank yard, Bienville reservoir, above ground tanks at Shelton Beach Road and Park Forest plaza.

Until new bids can be prepared and a new contractor found, MAWSS’ seven employees responsible for mowing the systems’ 200 miles of easements would take care of the additional properties.

MAWSS Engineer Calressia Clark said contractors are only used to maintain property that is seen by the public and needs to be mowed more often.

The board also voted to pay out $111,532 to retirees in a one-time lump-sum payment to cover cost-of-living increases. The cost of the payments will be budgeted over the next three years, Director Charles Hyland told the board.