Edina City Council To Vote On Proposed Rate Increases
By Echo Menges
The aging Edina Wastewater Treatment Facility and the ancient Edina sewer system are in need of some drastic overhauls in the near future. The infrastructure overhauls combined with rising landfill fees and projected Clearance Cannon water fee increases adds up to rate increases for customers in Edina.
The Edina City Council is expected to adopt an ordinance that would do just that at their next City Council meeting on Monday, February 13, 2012 in an effort to stay ahead of the curve.
The City Council approved a bond question to be added to the April 3, 2012 general municipal election ballot during their January meeting. They are asking voters to give them a bonding capacity of $4 million, which is to be used to fix and maintain the city sewer and the Wastewater Treatment Facility.
According to Edina Mayor, David Strickler, the increase in fees will allow them to pay for $2.9 million in bonds over 33 years.
“If we continue to do it piece-meal it’s going to cost a lot more. We need to bite the bullet and get it done all at once. A piece at a time isn’t keeping up with the deterioration.” Said Mayor Strickler. “For years and years we’ve been taking care of one tree at a time, but now it’s come to a point we have to take on the whole forest.”
According to Edina Wastewater Treatment Superintendent, Brad Eitel, the Wastewater Treatment Facility was built in 1982 with an expected life span of about 15 years. The facility has lasted double that projection and now it’s time to replace the facilities equipment.
“$135 thousand is budgeted to rebuild both clarifiers in 2012. In 2013 we are going to replace the aerators at the main treatment part of the plant, which is the oxidation ditch and is what provides oxygen to the microorganisms we use to treat the water. That will be approximately another $150 thousand. In 2014 we’re going to upgrade the plant head works. That part of the process gets all the debris out of the water before it enters the plant and will cost about $160 thousand. So it will be about a half a million dollars over a three-year period.” Said Eitel. “If we don’t do these things the plant will literally fall apart and we’ll have to replace the whole thing which would cost in the neighborhood of $2 million. So we can spend a half a million now or $2 million in a year or two.”
Eitel says many small NEMO communities are experiencing the same problems with their wastewater treatment facilities because they were all built around the same time. He says the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is beginning to press for those communities to make necessary upgrades and updates before non-compliance issues become a problem
.“At this time it’s not a compliance issue, but if we fail to do this it will become one as early as a year from now which could potentially cost us $30 thousand dollars a day in fines from DNR,” said Eitel. An even bigger bill on the horizon is the overhaul of Edina’s sewer system. According to the City Superintendent, Mike Wriedt, most of Edina’s sewer system, about 75 percent, is original consisting of interlocking clay piping. Some of the system was installed 70 plus years ago and the rest of it was installed 50 plus years ago. The engineering
firm Klinger & Associates recommends a complete overhaul of the sewer system and estimates the project will cost approximately $2.9 million to complete.
“Our sewer system is not supporting its self and there just isn’t a lot of fat to trim,” said Wriedt.“We need bonding capacity to get this sewer system and treatment plant under control,” said City Grant Writer, John Bode who helped put this year’s budget together.
“If we don’t get everything in place we could find ourselves in a real mess. This is the first City Council we’ve had willing to step up to the plate and get what needs to be done, done. It’s something that if you ignore it, it doesn’t get better. It’s getting worse.”
The water, sewer and trash collection rate increase ordinance would raise Edina water, sewer and trash pickup fees and customers will be charged an estimated 25 percent more on their overall bill as early as March of this year. The deposit to have services turned on will also double. Existing customers won’t be expected to pay the difference in the deposit rates unless their account becomes delinquent.
Before the City Council can vote in the rate increase ordinance two public hearings have to be held
.“The purpose of the public hearings is to get the feedback of the community,” said City Clerk Margaret Gibson, “so if anyone has any ideas or anything like that the council will take those into consideration before they vote.”
The first public hearing will be held on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 7 p.m. at the Edina City Hall. The second public hearing is scheduled for February 13, 2012 at 6:30 p.m., also at City Hall. The City Council will meet and vote during their regular February meeting after the second public hearing.