Commonwealth Journal

Local News

March 11, 2014

Burnside bides its time on water plant contract

Burnside —

The biggest development to come out of Monday’s meeting of the Burnside City Council was in fact a lack of action.
An expected vote to award a contract for work on the city’s planned water plant renovation was tabled while the City of Burnside waits to see exactly how much more it will have to raise customers’ water bills to pay for the project.
Before the council meeting — rescheduled after being postponed from Monday, March 3 due to severe winter weather conditions — the city held an informal “town hall”-type event too allow for discussion on the water plant project and a potential rate increase.
Most of that time, however, having the council ask questions of Jeff Reynolds, project manager with the HMB engineering firm that is overseeing the water plant overhaul and would be contracting out the work.
The city was looking at a minimum increase of $2.02 to customers’ water bills to help offset the cost  of a $415,000 RUS (Rural Utilities Services) loan obtained through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). A $63 water bill would be approximately $65, for instance.
Yet, that wouldn’t produce a lot of extra money — only about $80 a month more total, for all customers in town. 
“That only amortizes that loan. That doesn’t do anything if we need any maintenance done,” said Burnside Mayor Ron Jones. “If we’re going to do it, we ought to go two-and-a-quarter, $2.50.” 
Of course, in order to meet mandated guidelines, the water plant will require the fixes — making the issue of whether or not the city is willing to find a way to pay for them moot. 
“If it’s forced on us, we have to fix that water plant. There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it,” said councilor Dwayne Sellers. “The fact that it’s costing more money than we had planned on has got to come from somewhere.”

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