The Saratoga Sun -

Tap fee increase proposed

Sewer board discusses lagoon fixes, sends tap fee raise to council, talks adding Forest Service buildings to town water

 


The Saratoga Water and Sewer Joint Powers Board (sewer board) met Wednesday to deal with routine business facing the board, as well as to discuss several ongoing projects.

Besides routine business, the board discussed the results of an engineering study prepared by a contractor to find potential improvements for the town’s treatment lagoon, passed a draft ordinance to the town council that would raise sewer tap fees and the board discussed bringing the U.S. Forest Service (USFS)office near the airport on to the town’s water supply and sewage system.

The lagoon study was commissioned late last year to find potential upgrades for the town’s sewage lagoon and associated systems. As part of the sewer outfall project from last year, the sewer board received a state grant to implement changes to prevent suspected ammonia contamination from reaching Valley watersheds. However, the town was able to show that there is no consistent issue with ammonia levels, so the project was abandoned after the Department of Environmental Quality reconsidered.

The grant which would have paid for the outfall project still belongs to the town, but must be used for certain improvements, or the money will revert to the state.

The Sewer Board contracted with Sunrise Engineering to study the town’s lagoon and look for potential improvements that could be made.

According to Jon Winter, director of public works for the town of Saratoga, Sunrise visited the site, consulted with the town and has since generated a report of potential improvements that could be made to the lagoon facility. On the list of possible improvements are better aeration systems, several equipment upgrades and improved disinfection options.

Winter said a matrix will be generated showing cost, potential benefits and detractions of different projects suggested in the engineering study so that the board can review the options and make recommendations to the town council for possible projects on which to spend the state grants.

The board also voted to send a proposed ordinance raising the sewer tap fees to the town council after legal review of the ordinance was completed. The ordinance would raise the price of a sewer tap from $1,000 to $2,500 if installed by the town.

Richard Raymer, of the sewer board, said during the meeting that the hike was necessary to prevent the sewer board from losing money on sewer taps. The increased price, he said, was to bring the cost of a sewer tap in line with the actual cost borne by the town to install it.

The goal is not to make money, Raymer said, but rather to simply break even on the installation of sewer taps.

After the legal review requested by the sewer board, the proposition will be forwarded to town council for their consideration and possible approval.

Town Council, as well as the planning commission, will likely be getting involved in another matter confronting the sewer board. In November, representatives from the Saratoga USFS office appeared before the sewer board to discuss getting the USFS office, ranger station, firetruck garage and potentially a future bunkhouse for seasonal workers on city water.

Melanie Fullman, District Ranger for the Brush Creek/Hayden Ranger District, told sewer board representatives in November that water from the well on the property was not good to drink, and the office would like to be put on town water.

At that time, the USFS presented preliminary plans for a water line, but the board advised the USFS that it was not possible to have only town water at the site without town sewage. The USFS said it would come up with a plan for both water and sewer lines and would present those plans to the sewer board.

Wednesday, a representative of the USFS along with an engineer hired by the agency appeared and showed board members plans for water and sewer lines the USFS wanted to install. After several minutes of discussion about the engineering issues surrounding the lines, sewer board member Tim Lamprecht pointed out that before work could go on, the town would have to discuss annexation of the USFS property into the town.

Lamprecht said that annexation must at least be discussed to ensure transparency in the process and that all land owners wanting to be on town water and sewer are treated the same.

Sewer board members suggested the USFS bring the matter to the planning commission and the town to begin the discussion of the potential annexation of the site. The Forest Service representative said the service would approach the planning commission with hopes things there could be settled quickly. The USFS, he said, has money in the budget for the project in this fiscal year, but most likely will not in the next fiscal year. The federal government’s fiscal year will end Sept. 30.

The next meeting of the sewer board will be 6 p.m. March 8 at the Saratoga Town Hall building.

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