Sewer plant repairs discussed
The new fiscal year budget was discussed at a special meeting of the Alta City Council on Feb. 15th. “At the last meeting we were wondering where that set-aside was for infrastructure,” City Clerk Megan Peterson said. She reviewed the accounts and came up with a surplus of $22,000.
Alta’s supervisor of Streets and Sanitation, Brad Pedersen, asked council members to consider using some of the surplus funds to purchase a more accurate meter at the sewer plant to prevent violations from occurring. A notice of violation has not been issued but the potential exists unless repairs are made. He discussed flow amounts at the sewer plant, saying a new meter is needed,
Mayor Kevin Walsh agreed, saying, “If we make the corrections, we’re looking at return of investments. The sooner we do this, the more we can help you and help ourselves.”
Pedersen said that according to the meter company, it takes a minimum of 296 gallons per minute to make the meter accurate and this area does not have that kind of flow unless there is heavy rain. He said there have been false readings. City Clerk Megan Peterson said that when submitting routine reports, she and Pedersen for several years were unable to determine the origin of the false readings. Pedersen said that for the past 10 years the readings have been off. “There is no way we can have more water going out than coming in,” he said.
He has looked into price comparisons from different suppliers. “The new structure, the equipment, is estimated somewhere around $24,000 to $32,000 to replace this,” Pedersen said. He estimates it would cost around $30,000 and feels the purchase could be put on hold for another year if necessary.
“We don’t want to put it in the budget this year. I’d like to put part of the money away this year and be able to do it next year, realizing that we’re still going to have some high readings,” Pedersen said. “We’ve been this way for 10 years, but we need to get it done because someday that is going to affect us and I’d rather be proactive than reactive on that.”
Peterson said there are existing budget requests from the fire department and library, and council members have wanted to talk about pool and wages, and recently Pedersen made his request.
Council Member Molly Elston believes that the sewer project and Alta Library are priorities. She suggested using the surplus to give the library their request of $2,400 and $20,000 for sewer repairs. The City should be proactive on this issue, she said. “Sooner or later it’s going to be where the DNR (Dept. of Natural Resources) gets involved and we’re going to get a citation for it because we’re not compliant.”
Peterson believes Elston’s suggestion is reasonable. “We have a good-looking budget. Everything’s balancing,” she said, noting that there are additional dollars in the sewer plant fund if needed, depending on occurrences throughout the year. Money has been put aside every month for sewer equipment upgrades. “We have not been allowed to use it yet, but we do have clearly over $30,000 in those accounts.” She has attempted to get in touch with someone at the USDA to see if something like this would qualify.
A public hearing to finalize the budget is planned for Mar. 1st at the regular city council meeting.