Herald JournalHerald Journal, June 9, 2003

New Germany declines sharing wastewater plant with Mayer

By Dave Cox

New Germany City Council rejected a proposal from the City of Mayer that would have involved sharing the Mayer wastewater treatment facility.

The proposal was one of three wastewater treatment options that were presented by city engineer Kreg Schmidt at Tuesday's council meeting.

The proposals were developed to give the city some choices to consider as they look at needed improvements to the sewer and water systems.

"The key thing to consider is what has to happen in the city of New Germany so that you can pay your bills," Schmidt said.

The minimum development rate of 38 units per year was based on the cash flow needed to fund the projects. For comparison, Schmidt provided growth rates for some other area cities.

"The growth rate has been 200 units per year in Waconia, 80 to 90 in Watertown, and 60 units per year in both Norwood-Young America and Cologne," Schmidt said.

The Mayer proposal was rejected because, in spite of the estimated $3,300,00 cost, it would only be sufficient until 2011, at which time the plant would have to be expanded at an additional cost to New Germany of $3,600,000.

There was also concern that New Germany would give up some autonomy under this plan.

The second option, and the one recommended by Schmidt, would involve construction of a mechanical wastewater treatment facility in New Germany. A new lift station and forcemain will be also be needed, regardless of which plan is adopted.

This proposal would cost an estimated $3,900,000 and would provide sufficient capacity for the entire 20-year design period.

The third option would include expansion of the city's existing stabilization ponds.

This option would only be sufficient until 2009, at which time the city would still need to construct a mechanical treatment facility. Schmidt described this as, "a bad option," and advised against it.

The proposals were based on the assumption that approximately 325 acres would be added to the city, including Black Forest Estates second addition.

It was further assumed that over the next 20 years, 762 new residential units would be developed in addition to the existing 146.

New developers would be funding 86 percent of the improvement projects, and the city would fund the remaining 16 percent. In all cost apportionments, an initial $10 base charge and $4 gallon charge is assumed.

Council members Steve Van Lith and Shirley Jaeger questioned whether the $7,712 availability charges included in the proposal were similar to the charges in other area cities.

"These costs are high," Schmidt said, but he acknowledged that this is because there is so much that needs to be done in the city.

Mayor Franklin Schoenke said, "Everyone needs to know that this is based on a $10 base charge. You are not going to be getting by with a $4.50 or $5.50 base charge any more."

Schmidt agreed, and said, "The current fees in no way reflect the cost of treating water in the city. They may have at one time, but today it isn't even close."

Other discussion included the fact that remaining capacity of 40 new hookups to the existing treatment facility may discourage developers from coming to the city.

Kevin Pawelk also noted that the longer the city puts off the needed improvements, the more expensive they will be.

Schoenke stated that he was in favor of starting with the new lift station and forcemain. He described this as "a good faith effort" that would show potential developers that New Germany is serious about making the needed improvements.

Schmidt recommended that the council consider whether the 38 units per year growth rate seems viable for the city, and whether development in the projected areas seems likely.

He also recommended that the council contact their bonding advisors and have them put together some numbers.

The next step will be for the council to request information concerning issuing bonds to fund the projects, and the council directed city clerk Shelly Quaas to begin this process.

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