Armstrong Council holds work session
ARMSTRONG – The Armstrong City Council Wednesday held a work session to iron out a number of public works issues before the next council session Monday.
Present were Curtis Wiseman, senior civil engineer; Kelly Evans, civil engineering group; and Aaron Sedey, community resources planner – all with I&S Group – who presented a sanitary sewer rate study.
The rates, which started at $50 for minimal use, amortized the cost of an aerated lagoon pegged at a cost of $2,947,906. The rate study also assumed a $1 million contribution from GKN.
Sedey said revenue bonds were be the preferred financing, reserving the city’s general obligation authority for projects like the city pool.
Wiseman said he would like to meet with GKN after Wednesday’s meeting.
City clerk Connie Thackery said the rates the city sets for the other two Armstrong industries should not depend on GKN’s contribution.
“Just because GKN’s contributing, why should Art’s-Way get a better deal,” said Thackery who also questioned charging a base fee of $50 to elderly on fixed income.
“You’ve got to be careful about putting too much on the taxpayer,” said mayor Greg Buum, who suggested dropping to $30 the minimum charge for those using under 2,000 gallons of water a month.
Wiseman said that Armstrong’s current permit for discharging sanitary wastewater had actually expired in 2006, maintenance supervisor
Tom Leach said the city wasn’t meeting those limits now.
Buum said the bottom line was that the city didn’t want to need to take on GKN as a partner but that it would like them on board.
“I think we need to know what they’re (GKN) going to do before we know what we can ask for the residential,” said council member Adrian Hagebock.
Buum said that in a meeting he had with GKN that he thought the company was thinking of contributing $450,000 to $500,000 toward the project.
Also complicating funding would be the number of low-volume residential water users in town. Leach said there were 81 under 1,000 gallons while Leach said 40 percent were under 2,000. Thackery noted the current charge for up to 1,000 gallons was $13.75 a month.
Hagebock suggested a lower base fee with a higher cost per thousand.
“Could the commercial use be higher?” asked Buum.
“Yeah, but you aren’t going to get very much out of three users,” said Hagebock.
Buum said the city should have a proposal when it next meets with GKN.
In another lagoon-related matter, Leach said State Line Co-op’s Halfa feed mill starting a week ago Thursday was paying the city $70 a day to let it dump 5,000 gallons of boiler blowoff to dump in the city lagoon. Leach said the co-op might want to increase that to 11,000 or 12,000 gallons a day.
Council members also discussed increasing the city utility franchise fee from 2 to 5 percent. Buum said the move would help the city make up for an anticipated $20,000 loss in the property tax rollback over the next five years.
“I see nothing wrong with going to five,” agreed council member Joh Larsen.
Thackery said the current utility tax is going toward paying off the payloader – which will be paid off after two more annual payments.
Another topic council members discussed was expanding garbage pickup to rural areas.
Council member Don Leach said he didn’t have a problem with adding customers close to town, but added, “I’m personally not interested in running a gravel road route all around the country.’
Buum suggested a one-mile limit outside the city limits.
“To me, it’s the issue of what your revenue is going to be versus your expense,” said Leach.
The council also discussed possibly passing an ordinance prohibiting outside garbage haulers. Thackery noted conflicting sources said the city could and couldn’t allow that.
“I’m not a hundred percent in favor of passing an ordinance to force them,” said Buum.