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Helper moves ahead on bond issues for projects

Sun Advocate associate editor

With no fanfare and few in the audience to watch, the Helper City Council on Thursday took one more step in what is shaping up to be a historic rebuild of the city's aging infrastructure.

The council voted unanimously to pass resolutions authorizing two bond issues to finance sweeping improvements in the city's drinking water and and sewer systems.

The water bonds are not to exceed $8 million and sewer not to exceed $6.5 million. Maximum interest is 2.5 percent and the term is not more than 35 years.

The bonds will finance the loans approved by the state's Permanent Community Impact Board in May. The CIB authorized $12.5 million in loans for water and sewer and an outright grant of $7 million for flood control.

The annual cost of bond payments will be around $450,000

Helper's rationale for the extensive rebuild is that cost of the bond payments will be somewhat offset by a decrease in maintenance expense. The city's utility department repair work now averages one or two pipe breaks per week at a cost of $2,000 to $5,000 per incident.

Both systems are as old as 70 years in some places, with lead-jointed iron water pipes and old ceramic sewer pipes making up that infrastructure.

Some of those sewer pipes may be in such bad condition that a videotaping survey may be more expensive because of extreme conditions.

The city has scheduled a public hearing on the bonds for Sept. 6 at 6 p.m.

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