SYRACUSE — Discussion about how to pay for fixes to the Syracuse Wastewater Treatment Plant went on for approximately 40 minutes during the regular monthly meeting of the Syracuse Town Council Tuesday night, Jan. 16.
Town Manager Henry DeJulia said the cost could go up to about $1.3 million. He is looking to fund a sewer bond for 10 years using economic development income tax funds. By doing this, it would allow the wastewater treatment plant to build up an account of approximately $250,000 for future maintenance.
London Witte, the accounting firm the town uses for bond issues, is looking into how to fund the bond. DeJulia hopes to have the bond approved by March so work can start as soon as weather permits.
“This project has come in double what the engineer said,” said Councilman Larry Siegel. He asked how much the town received in EDIT funds, DeJulia said about $150,000 to $200,000. The bond would require about $135,000 a year.
Another idea would be to raise rates within a few years. “You don’t have a choice, you have to fix it. We were sold a bill of goods,” said Councilman Tom Hoover.
“Using EDIT for that really stifles economic development,” said Siegel, stressing raising rates is an option. Another idea proposed was to pull $500,000 out of existing EDIT funds and bond the remaining $750,000 and then adjust sewer rates.
“I don’t know if any of us will be here in 10 years, but we’re going to stifle whoever is here,” Siegel said.
DeJulia noted if the sewer rates raised more than $250,000 for maintenance, the remaining could be put toward the bond. Jeremy Hardy, of Commonwealth Engineers, which did the engineering on the plant repairs, told the council there should be about $30,000 to $50,000 savings in energy use, which could also be applied to the bond payment.Siegel stressed looking at a hybrid way to pay for the sewer plant fix.
While discussion continued for more than 30 minutes, Tina Wolff, project development manager for Kokosing Industrial, the company that will do the repairs, told the council she would like to order equipment that takes several weeks or months to come in and payment could be made in April. Kokosing’s plan is to have repairs made to the plant by June 1.
After more discussion the council instructed DeJulia to look at taking $600,000 out of existing EDIT funds and finance the remaining half of the $1.3 million by bond or rate increase. The council also approved Kokosing going forward and ordering equipment for a cost of $300,000.
Prior to this discussion the council approved a resolution authorizing the use of EDIT funds for a capital improvement plan, which is the wastewater sewer plant.
The council approved an ordinance amending an previous ordinance on deferred compensation for town officials and employees. The town will make contributions to the deferred compensation plan for each employee who elects to participate at a rate of 4 percent.
Paula Kehr-Wicker, clerk treasurer, requested permission to write off voided checks and to pay $171,256.70 in encumbrances from 2017. The council approved.
Fire Chief Mickey Scott reported the storm siren did not go off last week due to ice on the siren. Work is progressing on station renovations. The department will also be going through advanced life support training and training for derailed rail cars carrying hazardous materials.