By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer
It’s been nearly a year since city staff started working on plans for a new laboratory for the wastewater treatment plant, and Water Quality Superintendent Dan Riney wants to know where the project is headed.
The last time the project was discussed was at the first City Council meeting in January when a representative of Estes Construction presented on the construction options. Before that, the new lab had bounced from committee to council and back to committee, where it landed Wednesday.
“It seems to me that we’re getting so far out in the weeds,” Riney said to City Services Committee members Wednesday. “I’m asking you to move forward with the idea that you support the fact that this facility is needed and make the commitment to do it. Then we can talk to contractors and talk about the way to deliver the project, but at this time it seems we’re getting the cart in front of the horse, I guess.”
The new lab is expected to cost $2.7 million with a $300,000 contingency. This is included in a $6.7 million local option sales tax bond the city plans to pursue.
“This would not be something we would be levying on our taxes,” Kinser said. “If the annual payment was $500,000 for principal and interest, we would be using our local option sales tax that can be dedicated towards streets and sewer construction for that purpose.”
The lab would be 1,850 square feet, double the space of the currently used lab at the old wastewater treatment plant. The management/combined area of the facility, which would house reception, restrooms, locker rooms and other areas, would be 2,470 square feet, more than 1,200 square feet less than the same area in the current lab.
Committee member John Rowland gave Riney his view of the project.
“I will not vote to fund this at this particular time,” Rowland said. “I think we need to wait for another year or two and review it then. I think financially, we’re over committed now to a lot of things.”
Committee members questioned what other options are viable, including using the lab at the old facility.
Riney said the old facility could be improved, although it might be a costly endeavor. Also, the problem of space between the two facilities couldn’t be solved.
“I can’t give you a firm number or firm idea of what we would do,” Riney said. “If everyone follows (Rowland’s) lead and votes ‘no,’ then I’ll start talking and figuring and seeing what we need to do to make what we have work more efficiently. But I really haven’t put a lot of energy in that because I’m pursuing this.”
Committee members decided the item should be sent to the Committee of the Whole again for more discussion.