The Saratoga Sun -

Dump station to get pay kiosk

Outfall project terms change

 


An increase in sewer tap fees may be imminent, and those who dump RV holding tanks at Saratoga’s dumping station will get a lot more honest following a meeting of the Saratoga Water and Sewer Joint Powers Board (sewer board) on Wednesday

The board approved draft legislation to increase tap fees. The board agreed to install, on a trial basis, a credit card operated kiosk that is intended to capitalize on RV dumping that is not being paid for under the current honor system.

The ordinance approved by the sewer board will increase the price for new sewer taps to $3,500 if the city installs it, or $2,500 if done by a contractor. Currently, the price for a sewer tap is $1,500, and the sewer board says it loses money at that price. The new fees are intended to allow the sewer board to break even on the cost of a sewer tap.

The new ordinance also will allow the price of sewer tap fees increase every year to offset inflation, currently set at 3 percent by the town council.

The board agreed to send the draft ordinance to the town council for ultimate approval. The town council could approve the rate increase as early as June.

Another issue that took a significant amount of the sewer board’s meeting was the discussion of RV holding tank dumping at the sewage treatment plant. Currently, the board asks a $5 fee from RV owners emptying holding tanks at the town’s facility, but the town relies on the honor system in getting RV owners to pay. While estimates vary greatly, one board member said he estimated as few as 20 percent of RV owners who dump at the station actually pay.

This raises costs for the town as it processes and cleans the waste without any compensation.

The solution may be an automated pay-per-use kiosk. Users would pull up to the dumping station and would have to insert a payment card into the kiosk before being permitted to hook up to the dumping station. Those who do not pay would be unable to hook up to the kiosk, ensuring payment is received for the service rendered.

The kiosk, sold by SaniStar of Sisters, Ore., is installed at parks and private facilities such as truck stops across the nation, the board said. The cost to install the kiosk is $1,700 and there is a $150 per month maintenance fee. The town would keep all proceeds from the kiosk.

Currently, the board estimates that about 500 RVs per year use the dumping facility. At the current rate of $5 per use, the system would more than pay for itself if the usage estimates are correct. Otherwise, the board could increase the fee to a higher amount, with one board member saying that as a former RV owner, $5 is a very low price for dumping.

The board voted to install the kiosk on a trial basis. If, after the trial period ends, the board finds the system is not sustainable, it can elect to have it removed.

The sewer board also discussed a proposal by the U.S. Forest Service facility just outside town limits on highway 130 to be put on the town’s water supply. No action was taken, but the board said it would be willing to discuss the proposal with the Forest Service. Such efforts had been proposed in the past but had failed due to disagreements between the sewer board and the USFS administration in place at the time.

The board concluded the meeting with a discussion of an issue plaguing Saratoga Grain & Feed and Happy Tails dog boarding, both of which have had sewer line backups. The businesses are served by a sewer line that runs underneath HWY 130 before trying into the town’s sewage system.

However, the town has no record of having installed that line, or as-built drawings showing its location. After several minutes of discussion, board members said that the problematic sewer line was not installed or owned by the town, and must have been put in by a third party. As such, the board states it is not responsible for problems with that line.

The sewer board also briefly discussed the Saratoga Sewer Outfall Project. At the previous meeting, the board said it had found new data that showed ammonia levels in Hot Slough Creek, and that these levels were within range. The board said it would install several new monitoring points to continue collecting data. The board also indicated that it would have to approach several private property owners in the area to ask permission to access those monitoring points.

The next meeting of the Saratoga sewer board will be 6 p.m., May 11 at Saratoga Town Hall.

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