WILLIAMSON – At a Williamson Utility Board meeting held Jan. 14, Rick. Roberts and Randall Lewis with E.L. Robinson Engineering addressed the board to discuss water and waste water upgrades.
Roberts opened the discussion stating, “As you know, we have been working on water and waste water upgrades to the system for quite some time now. Part of the project is to replace a lot of your failing parts of your system and provide more storage capacity in your system.”
“We have met with the former Mayor and with Jason (Veolia Water) to identify these things. I have put together a very brief description of both the water and the sewer,” Roberts said. “The previous mayor had signed an application to Rural Utility Services. Right now, we have a one million dollar grant. We applied for that. The former mayor signed the application that has already been submitted. Part of the application process requires that public meetings be held to discuss the project with the public,” Roberts continued.
Williamson Mayor Robert Carlton responded stating, “Summarize the cost for us a little bit.”
Roberts explained the cost for the upgrade projects. “The water project is $12,578,000. The sewer project is $4,437,000,” Roberts said.
“Is all of this mandated by any change in law?” Carlton questioned.
Richards responded, “On the water side, the passage of Senate Bill 373 required that certain things be done. To my understanding, the project addresses those items that are in your sanitary survey. On the sewer side, there is an existing consent decree issued that in addition to some other items are included in the things we are trying to take care of with the sewer project.”
Carlton stated, “This is a debt that has to be financed obviously and there is a state agency that does that, I assume.”
“The rural services are a federal agency actually and we applied for a grant and a loan for them. The loan is a long- term 38 year debt. It is actually 40 but the first two years are paid interest only are paid for project funds,” Richards explained.
Richard continued stating, “What we would like to ask is that we be allowed to go ahead and proceed with the public meetings so that we can have those held so that we can keep the process going. You are not obligated at this point to accept anything but in order to keep going, we would like to go ahead and hold those two public meetings.”
Following a discussion of potential upfront costs, Carlton explained, “You have a new chairman of the Utility Board and a couple of new members. A lot of this is new information to one or more of us. It is good that you are here and that we can become aware of the situation. You have provided us with a packet to look over between now and the next meeting when we would be in a much better position to discuss it. I am a bit hesitant to tell you to go forward with anything because we can’t pay our current bills and we are awaiting a PSC hearing to try to get a rate increase. This project that you are proposing means that we would need another $60,000 per month to fund it in addition to what we currently have. Today, I don’t see how we can afford that. I hesitate to tell you to go forth because I don’t want you to incur any more debt until I see over the next 30 to 60 days what the PSC does and where we end up at that point in time.”
The discussion continued, and focused on potential state mandated improvements that are needed for the water and waste water systems.
Carlton concluded the meeting stating, “Let me ask this plain and clear so that no one has any concerns, is the water that is coming out of the water plant today safe in your opinion based on the equipment that we currently have?”
“It is meeting all state and federal requirements,” Richards stated.
The next meeting of the Williamson Utility Board will be held at 3:30 p.m. Jan. 28 at Williamson City Hall.
(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected], or at 304-234-4242 ext. 2279.)