The City Council spent much of its night Tuesday revisiting previously approved contracts.
It began with an issue of a traffic study. The residents of Walden Village had previously petitioned the council for improvements to the intersection of North Street and Walden Lane. The subdivision is home to mostly elderly residents who voiced fear about pulling onto the main road.
The upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant will cost $13 million less than expected.
The city awarded Methuen Construction a contract of $51,423,287 to make the upgrades required to comply with a U.S. EPA mandate to lower the levels of phosphorous and aluminum being discharged into the Housatonic River. It also includes adding a nitrogen optimization process. The City Council had previously authorized $74 million to complete the work.
The City Council adopted increases to water and sewer rates for both fiscal year 2019 and 2020.
The water rates are now set to go up 10 percent starting on Jan. 1 and then another 10 percent on July 1. Sewer rates are now slated to increase 50 percent on Jan. 1 and remain that way through 2020.
After six hours spanning two nights, the City Council opted not to ask the mayor to hold off on the $74 million wastewater treatment project.
The City Council had given the OK earlier this year for the mayor to borrow up to $74 million for significant upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant
The City Council is split on setting water and sewer rates for the next 18 months.
In a 6-5 vote Tuesday night, the City Council's Committee of the whole approved the mayor plan to raise water rates by 20 percent and sewer rated by 50 percent starting on Jan. 1. However, the final decision has to be made next Tuesday and the council has requested more information before casting that vote.
Mayor Linda Tyer is introducing a plan to raise sewer rates over the next seven years to pay for the $74 million wastewater treatment project.
The sewer rate increase will be particularly front-loaded with a 50 percent increase at the start of 2019, should the City Council approve the plan. That would raise the current rate to $362.34 per year - an increase of $114.65 per year for a household with two toilets - effective January 1, 2019.
Begrudgingly, the City Council approved a $74 million upgrade to the wastewater system, which is estimated to more than double sewer bills within the next three years.
The city has been under an administrative order form the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to lower the levels of phosphorous and aluminum in the water coming out of the plant. The project proposed by the consultants, Kleinfelder, also called for a nitrogen optimization process as well.
The City Council rejected a $74 million capital request to renovate the wastewater treatment center in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Shortly before 12:30 a.m. the request from Mayor Linda Tyer to borrow for upgrades to the plant fell one vote short of the supermajority needed. Councilors Christopher Connell, Melissa Mazzeo, Kevin Morandi, and Donna Todd Rivers all voted down the project.
The administration is seeking authority to borrow the $74 million in an effort to comply with an EPA administrative order, which calls for significantly decreasing the amount of phosphorus, and aluminum treatment, released into the Housatonic River. The plan developed in consultation with Klienfelder also calls for a nitrogen optimization process.
The City Council doesn't want to rush into making a $74 million decision.
Mayor Linda Tyer had put forth a petition calling for the borrowing of $74 million for a massive project with the wastewater system. The city is under an administrative order from the Environmental Protection Agency holding the system to higher standards of phosphorus, aluminum treatment, and nitrogen removal. The project has been in design for about a year, coming after years of ultimately losing appeals in federal cou
The mayor is asking for the authority to borrow $74 million for a major upgrade of the city's wastewater treatment center.
The expense has been a long time coming, starting with the city seeking to renew its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit in 2005. The Environmental Protection Agency oversees those permits in an effort to keep waterways clean and had issued a permit in 2008 requiring significantly higher standards of phosphorus, aluminum treatment, and nitrogen removal.