Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Hailey moves ahead with sewer bond

Dewatering facility could cost $6.1 million

Express Staff Writer

The Hailey City Council is making plans to put a bond measure before voters in May to borrow up to $6.1 million to pay for a new “biosolids” facility at the Woodside wastewater treatment plant.
    The city has spent $330,000 on engineering plans for a new dewatering facility, which would replace a dilapidated fiberglass dome that was built in the 1970s and later repurposed to serve as a dewatering facility.
    City leaders and public works officials have deemed the dome and rusted internal parts to be dangerous and outdated. The Public Works Department has promoted construction of the new facility to increase safety and reduce the trucking of sludge from Hailey to the Ohio Gulch dump.
    State law requires majority approval for passage of the revenue bond.
    City officials are uncertain about how much the bond would increase sewer fees during its 20- to 30-year term.
    Public Works Director Tom Hellen said in 2103 that a $4 million bond would result in an increase of $7 per month for a 20-year bond. However, City Administrator Heather Dawson said Tuesday that a formula would be forthcoming by mid-March, in time for the City Council to put the measure before voters in May.
    “Until that time, I don’t recommend guessing about the amount,” Dawson said.
    Dawson said the city’s goal would be to keep sewer rates steady through 2021, when the city will close out a bond that was issued in 2000 for the last sewer plant upgrade.
    “That will be a council decision,” she said.
    During a City Council meeting Monday, HDR Engineering representatives provided a cost estimate of between $4.8 and $6.1 million for the new facility. They said the estimate was based on engineering plans that are only 60 percent complete, and they expect to have designs 90 percent complete by mid-March.
    If the bond passes, construction could begin by October on the estimated year-long project.
    Mayor Fritz Haemmerle has for nearly two years stressed the need for the upgrade, which he said would 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 in 2013.
    In other Hailey news:

  • The City Council contracted with Eric Heringer of Seattle Security Northwest for $26,000 to provide financial counsel for the proposed biosolids bond measure.
  • The council contracted with the Hawley Troxell law firm in Boise for $3,500 bond counsel legal services until and if a bond measure passes, at which time the firm will contract at a fixed rate for further work on the bond.
  • April McCleod and Erin Bliss were appointed to the Hailey Art and Historic Preservation Commission. Robin Crotty was appointed to the Parks and Lands Board.


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