City officials crunch numbers on water filling station

Sean C. Morgan

If the city of Sweet Home builds a proposed water filling station, the facility would pay for itself in 22 to 28 years, according to a cost-benefit analysis.

Public Works Director Mike Adams presented the analysis to the City Council during its regular meeting on May 28.

The city has provided an average of 98,215 cubic feet of water annually to customers through fire hydrants over the past five years.

The water filling station would provide bulk water, from gallon jugs and RVs to water tankers, 24 days a day, seven days a week at a filling station at the city’s Maintenance Yard off 24th Avenue. Past users of similar city services have included contractors, the Linn County Road Department and the city of Waterloo.

Budget Committee member Dave Trask questioned whether the city should build the station during the committee’s 2012-13 budget review in May. The Budget Committee approved the budget, maintaining the funding for the station, and the council must adopt it by the end of June.

The council asked Adams to provide more information about the station, which would need to be approved by councilors before construction.

The proposed budget provides up to $130,000 for the project. Adams said the project is more likely to cost $102,000 to $110,000, but he cannot confirm a cost until the project goes out for bids. The estimate is based on a rate of $4.79 per hundred cubic feet.

At a cost of $100,000, if average usage doesn’t change, it would take approximately 22 years to pay for the station. If the project costs $130,000, it would take nearly 28 years to pay for the project.

From 2007 to 2011, the city provided highs of 190,290 cubic feet of water in 2009 and 153,293 in 2010 and lows of 16,500 in 2007 and 49,010 in 2011. The city sold 81,980 in 2008.

Funding for the project would come from the city’s systems development charges, which pay for expansion of the water system, and from the Water Capital Construction Fund. Systems development charges are paid during the construction of new developments. The Capital Construction Fund is funded through water rates. The 2012-13 water rates include no funding for capital construction.

The city already has the funding for the project, and it legally cannot be transferred to funds that have suffered from revenue shortfalls in the past year.

If this project is not approved, the money would remain in the city budget collecting interest, Adams said. The city has no other upcoming projects for these funds.

The project would have no direct impact on anticipated water rates, Adams said.

The proposal started as a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant project, but when the city chose not to set up the station at the city’s reservoirs, it declined to provide grant funds.

The project remained on the city’s list of long-term hazard mitigation projects.

It is listed as goal number one in a council resolution in 2009.

Adams said the project will meet City Council goals for 2012 by continuing infrastructure improvements for regulatory compliance and economic development and by enhancing the city’s culture of quality service programs.

It also meets the city’s Strategic Plan goal to build physical infrastructure to meet capacity requirements for current needs and future growth, Adams said.

The project includes construction of a 120-square-foot split-face block building with a metal roof, 150 feet of fence work and a 200-square-food road access with associated sidewalks, curbs and storm drainage.

The council will decide whether to approve the 2012-13 budget at its June 25 meeting.

If the funding is approved, the council will decide whether to proceed with the project when Adams submits it for approval prior to construction.