01-24-2019 Frigid start of the week chills Tri-Cities to the bone; Police Reports; Payment in lieu o

Watervliet moves ahead with management plan to fund city improvements; water and sewer budget revenues over-estimated

At a special meeting held Tuesday, January 22, 2019, the Watervliet City Commission took the final step to move forward with a city-wide asset management plan.

With Wightman associate Frank Lapeer and Engineer Alan Smaka on hand to answer any final questions, the City Commission had one more look at a proposed time line to move forward with an asset management plan. In developing an asset management plan, the city can decide how to manage and fund future improvements to their aged infrastructure.

Through the Stormwater, Asset Management and Wastewater (SAW) Grant the City has already been able to assess inventory, make conditional assessments, establish the level of service, evaluate the criticality of the systems, and to develop a capital improvement plan for its storm water and sewer systems.

Other pieces of the puzzle include technology tools that will provide permanent records that tell the story of the city’s infrastructure no matter who is sitting at the Commissioner table or serving as city staff. All of the data, maintenance, and history are available at the click of the button.

With an asset management plan in place, the city can go from being a fix it when it breaks scenario into a more proactive system.

With giving Wightman the go ahead with the city-wide asset management plan, the city will then be able to see from a financial standpoint the kind of increases in rates it would take to do capital improvements. The figures for the operating expenditures included what the city is currently paying for treatment costs. With approximately a 6% increase per year, the city could possibly undertake a $3 million bond issue which could allow the city to actually go in and complete the infrastructure improvements once and for all.

A $3 million USDA loan would be for 40 years at a rate of about 3.25%. With an annual 6% rate increase from 2019 until 2029, the city then could reduce the annual increases to about 1.5% going forward from 2029. Once improvements are made, costs should actually go down, and ultimately that savings would be passed down to the residents. Smaka pointed out that with the improvements being made, they will also be able to reduce the amount of flow being treated which will ultimately reduce the cost to the city as well. They hope to have the USDA loan submitted for potential payment coming in the spring of 2020.

The city will be looking at creating a 20-year plan for getting their systems where they need to be and maintaining them.

As part of the plan, the city will also do an inflow and infiltration study which could provide a potential savings for them and will provide a plan for how to offset that going forward.

City Manager Tyler Dotson said, “The part I am most excited about is the ability to plan for future generations so that they can be managed by anyone who might come in to the manager, commissioner, or staff position.”

Smaka added, “If it is not embraced culturally, you are wasting your money. We wouldn’t propose it if we didn’t think it would be fruitful,” With that the City Commissioners said to proceed with the plan as it was presented. The plan could cost the City approximately $180,000 from Wightman; however, the collection of that could wait until the USDA loan comes in.

Mayor Dave Brinker said, “This is probably the most pro-active thing we have done.”

Budget amendmen