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home : news : news May 24, 2016

6/20/2013 1:16:00 PM
Sewer network members to get $1 million loan

Members of the Chisago Lakes Joint Sewage Treatment Commission voted this week to present a $1 million financing deal to member cities, to seek resolutions of support from the city councils for the package. Councils in the CLJSTC include: Center City, Chisago City, Lindstrom, Stacy, Wyoming and the County Board is also a user of the wastewater network and has one seat on the commission. Financial details are being finalized but the commission members liked the concept of a “drawdown” account provided through a state financing agency, which allows projects to be done and paid for out of the committed loan total. This way-- if there’s deletions to the commission’s upcoming infrastructure projects there could be leftover monies, that will just go back into debt service, reducing what’s owed.

The original plan was to borrow $1.3 million. But Monday it was clear that at least a couple city representatives did not support the $300,000 earmarked in the original proposal for buying land adjacent to the wastewater treatment facility site. Negotiations had broken off between the sellers and CLJSTC when a counter-offer was rejected by the owners a couple months ago. Apparently they are still willing to start up talks again. The concern expressed by Don Taylor and Bob Gustafson, serving for Chisago City, is that the acquisition “is a want and not a need.” Chisago City Administrator John Pechman told the Press Chisago City’s sewer fund is being seriously depleted, and over the years city wastewater treatment expenses have exceeded what’s being collected. Pechman said other members are in the same situation. The first plan, for the $1.3 million, would have required at minimum, a six percent rate hike for Chisago City customers.

Gustafson reminded the CLJSTC that he has never opposed any systemic or plant need but he couldn’t support buying land. Taylor added that if the commission is concerned about providing a buffer between the sewer facility and future possible residential development, the matter could be addressed by zoning. CLJSTC Chair Mark Wolcott “abstained” on the motion, saying his city council already voted to support the original deal including the land purchase funds. Joe Wishy, for Lindstrom, (Curt Flug was absent) also abstained saying he wanted direction from his council before deleting the land purchase. Wyoming’s member Steve Zerwas was also absent, and Joe Zerwas supported the reduced funding package.

Commissioner George McMahon made the motion that passed 5-2(abstain). He said the debate about buying the land is delaying the whole issue. The market is providing a “great (interest) rate” right now and the commission debate is “too mixed up” with members opposing the land purchase at a stand-off with those supporting it, with the end result delaying basic projects all members have agreed to. One of the big projects the CLJSTC needs to accomplish is the lift station upgrade at the channel in Lindstrom. Here there was some good news. Engineer Chuck Janski said early design costs are estimated below what was thought at the outset. The lift station electrical panel will require a 90-day manufacture time, so Janski said bids need to be awarded soon. The CLJSTC is planning to advertise by next month. And, the discharge by St. Bridget’s Church into Lindstrom’s wastewater system is going well.

The tests of the water the church has been pumping out of its site show no diesel fuel compounds. The church is on a state clean-up list, having been built on soils known to be contaminated by an old fuel storage operation. The treatment plant operators have been monitoring the temporary discharge allowed directly into the sewer lines by church sump pumps.

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