Water woes

Well project on hold

BY CHRISTINA DERR
christina@azlenews.net

The $1.4 million project that was slated to bring two water wells to Springtown is on hold.
Last November, the city council voted to authorize the issuance of certificates of obligation to finance the wells’ construction that City Administrator David Miller said may not be necessary – at least not immediately.

Miller said that, in a rush, the proper “homework” wasn’t done by the engineering firm Freese and Nichols to prove the benefit or necessity of the wells.
“We may not need them now. We may not need them at all. We may only need one,” Miller said.
The city, Miller said, will commission a proper study to be completed by a separate engineering firm that has not yet been named.
“It will not be Freese and Nichols,” Miller said. “We want a fresh set of eyes.”
Because the loans for the wells were issued through the Texas Water Development Board’s (TWDB) State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) program, certain project restrictions applied.
However, Miller stated that the city has been in contact with TWDB, and the board has agreed that if the wells aren’t necessary, the funds can be used by the city for other water projects that related to conservation or water quality.
Miller said the city has several projects that meet those qualifications.
Another rate study
In budget discussions for the 2016-17 fiscal year, the city council received results of a utility rate study from the firm Willdan Financial Services.
Water and wastewater rates were increased, in part, in that and the current fiscal years based on recommendations from that study which suggested a five-year step up of water and wastewater service fees.
Miller said there were errors in how the results of that study were concluded – including the firm labeling more than $4 million in infrastructure assets as reserve funds.
Those errors, Miller said, have necessitated a second study in as many years to give the city council a truer picture of the financial state of their enterprise fund.
The council discussed the need for such a study at their July 10 budget workshop.
An item authorizing a $10,500 contract with Carolyn Marshall, CPA for a “water and wastewater rate study that would project out a financial plan for water and sewer operations for a five-year period” will be considered on the July 26 consent agenda.