Danedri Thompson
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City council members killed further research on a private-public partnership to oversee Gardner utilities and approved a resolution directing city staff to research ways to implement a board of public utilities instead.
Both decisions followed months of research by the council and by a committee of citizens and community stakeholders.
Council member Chris Morrow, who spearheaded the community committee, suggested that the utility board include existing members of the Electric Utility Board (EUB). Currently, the Mayor appoints members to the EUB, and council approves those appointments, and Morrow suggested that would be a preferable way to handle an expanded utility board that would also oversee the city’s water and wastewater utilities.
The proposed board will likely oversee a huge sewer project city council members also approved on March 19.
Council members agreed to fund additional treatment capacity at a sewer plant the city of Edgerton will build near the intermodal site at 191st Street and Waverly Road.
City officials were unable to say exactly what rate increases related to the project might look like, but consultants for the project said the upfront costs would be offset down the road in future savings.
Jeff White, Edgerton’s bond counsel, told city council that both cities will share the risks and responsibilities related to the multi-million dollar sewer treatment plant.
“The two communities have relatively off-setting needs,” White explained.
The biggest risk for Edgerton was they would build a sewer plant that didn’t use enough capacity.
“We’re expected to generate a certain amount of sewage. If we don’t we’re going to be penalized,” council member Larry Fotovich worried about the agreement.
Jim Melvin, city water and wastewater manager, said we’re already producing the amount of sewage necessary to comply with Gardner’s part of the agreement.
Wastewater generated from the southwest part of Gardner will be diverted from the Kill Creek plant and sent to the new Edgerton facility, under the agreement. That, he said, will lessen the need for a likely $25 million expansion of the Kill Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in the near future.
Under the agreement, Gardner will have instant access to some of Edgerton’s capacity. A complex formula would allow both communities to share in the project if and when the need for expanding that plant arrives.
The council agreed to allow the mayor to enter into a contract that has yet to be written, however council members were privy to a term sheet describing the anticipated agreement. The sheet did not include final costs for the project, but consultants estimated Edgerton’s portion of the project will cost $9.48 million while Gardner’s costs will range between $8.72 million and $9.72 million.
The cost range is related to unknown factors such as how deep and how much rock must be dug through to create pipeline between Gardner and the Edgerton facility.