The Price River Water Improvement District cleared another hurdle Tuesday in the long process of planning and financing $7 million in water and sewer system upgrades. It was a mandatory public hearing on the proposed issue of up to $4 million in 20-year, zero interest bonds.
Visitors filled two chairs in the boardroom.
One was Matt Millis, a consultant with Lewis, Young, Robertson and Burningham, the district's financial advisers. He was there to explain to the public the effect the bonds would have on PRWID finances.
The other was Lynna Topolovec, the public who showed up for the hearing.
Millis told the board and the public that the district was "fortunate to receive funding for the bulk of the project." As reported earlier, PRWID received almost half of the project funding in January as an outright grant from the Community Impact Board. The balance will come from a CIB loan and $150,000 in internally-generated funds. CIB will buy the bonds when PRWID issues them, which should be April 12.
According to Millis, the annual expense of paying off the $2.5 million allocated for water bonds will be about $145,000 for the first six years and $125,000 for the remainder of the term. With sewer, the added expense will be $56,000 for six years and $48,000 a year after that.
The reason for the higher payments during the early years is that the district has to accumulate a reserve equal to a full year's payment to satisfy the requirements of the bond covenants.
He concluded that the district should have no problem with the debt considering the proposed rate increases for water and sewer.
PRWID general manager Jeff Richens explained that the water rate hike is expected to be 75 cents for wholesale customers and $1.25 for those buying water retail. That brought a question from Topolovec, who asked why there was a discrepancy.
Board member Ben Blackburn, mayor of Wellington, explained that all his city gets from the district is bulk water, while the city's own utility department has to cover system maintenance and meter reading.
The lion's share of the $7 million will be going for repairs, replacements and upgrades at the water treatment plant at Castle Gate and the waste water plant at Wellington. The rest will go for water and sewer piping.
At Wellington, the efforts will mainly be to replace structures and equipment that have been corroded by fragrances over the years. At Castle Gate, the project will be two-fold. First, PRWID wants to make the plant capable of delivering a full six million gallons of purified water per day. It now produces four million, which Richens explained is just enough to meet demand during the summer months. The other improvement will be to reduce the organic byproducts of chlorination. While chlorine kills bacteria, it also combines with organic material to form potentially harmful compounds. The district is testing three different methods of water treatment to see which one will provide the best year-round solution. to reducing the amount of chlorine used.