The emergency repair of more than a half-mile of Wellington's dilapidated Main Street sewer line advanced a step Wednesday, as the city's proposal to issue not more than $280,000 in bonds cleared a public hearing without citizen opposition.
Wellington needs the money to cover its share of the expected total cost of $480,000. Half the money is coming from an outright grant from the state's Permanent Community Impact Board, with the balance coming as a 30-year, zero-interest loan from the CIB.
Payback on the bonds will come from an increase of about a dollar per connection per month, Mayor Ben Blackburn explained.
In his briefing before the public comment period, Blackburn reminded citizens of the sewer line break over the Thanksgiving weekend. The city had to call in an out-of-town contractor to unclog the jam, which was more than Wellington or the Price River Water Improvement District could handle.
Once the flow was restored, a video camera inspection of the main showed evidence of breaks, corrosion and places where there was no pipe at all.
Blackburn said he had asked the CIB for a grant for the full amount, but board members noted that at $22 per month, the town's sewer rates were among the lowest in the state. The board wanted Wellington to contribute to the cause with its own funds, so it settled on the half-grant, half-loan package.
There could be more repairs in store. The CIB also gave the city $75,000 to perform a video survey of every sewer main in town. That work has begun. When it is complete, the city will distribute digital copies of the video to contractors so they can assess the situation and design proposals for fixing any problems found..
The extent of the deterioration underground is still unknown, but Blackburn did tell citizens at the meeting that most parts of the system are more than 50 years old.
The prospect of rate hikes for sewer service is something the city will assess later, when more details of the scope of work ahead are clear, Blackburn said. Councilman Kirt Tatton added, "We've got to start building a maintenance fund."