Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hailey raises sewer fees to narrow engineering estimates

Wastewater facility upgrade could cost up to $5 million

Express Staff Writer

The city of Hailey is looking at ways to raise money to pay for upgrades at its domed wastewater treatment facility in Woodside.
Express file photo

    Beginning in June, Hailey sewer fees will increase by $9 to $13 per month per user until October to pay for engineering plans for a proposed new “dewatering” facility at the Woodside wastewater treatment plant.
    The new facility would replace a dilapidated 37-year-old fiberglass dome and reduce the amount of sewer sludge taken to the Ohio Gulch dump each week.
    If a $4 million bond issue now being discussed by the City Council to pay for the new facility is approved by voters next year, taxes would be raised about $7 per year per ratepayer for 20 years.
    The council voted unanimously Monday to support the temporary rate hike, which will be used to pay $330,000 to HDR Engineering to narrow down projected costs for the new facility.    
    HDR has already estimated that the new facility will cost between $2 million and $5 million. The $330,000 funded by the temporary rate hike is expected to get the estimate to within 90 percent accuracy, a step that city leaders say is necessary to bring the issue to a bond initiative vote next summer to pay for the new facility.
    Mayor Fritz Haemmerle stressed the need for the upgrade, which he said would increase safety at the Woodside wastewater facility, reduce operations costs and allow the city to more easily meet increasingly strict U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards for effluent discharge into the Big Wood River.
    “[Clean] water is what makes the difference between a First World country and a Third World country,” Haemmerle said.
    The temporary fee hike will increase the cost per 1,000 gallons, based on winter use amounts, from $3.94 to $5.97, an increase of 52 percent. In addition, a fee to pay off Hailey’s existing bond will increase by 14 percent, from $6.43 to $7.31 per user, on top of the existing base rate of $13.59.    
    In other Hailey news:
( The City Council voted to limit the number of building-permit extensions in the city to four.
( The Wood River High School WATER (We Appreciate The Earth’s Resources) Club was honored by Haemmerle for getting recycling bins installed at all city parks.
( Sun Valley resident Latham Williams was granted an amendment to a phasing agreement to extend until 2014 the developer’s opportunity to add two more theaters at the Big Wood Cinemas on Main Street.

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