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11/4/2010 6:00:00 AM
Council OKs loan agreement for plant

James Chilton
Miner Staff Reporter


KINGMAN - The Kingman City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a loan agreement between the city and the state Water Infrastructure Finance Authority to fund the $18.6 million construction of a new Downtown Wastewater Treatment Plant designed to replace the city's existing plant, which has fallen out of compliance with federal and state regulations.

Tuesday's vote was effectively a foregone conclusion, since if the city does not get its wastewater treatment facilities back in compliance with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, it could be fined up to $25,000 per day, with an additional moratorium placed on all new building permits.

So instead of debating whether to actually approve the loan agreement, Council instead turned to City Engineer Greg Henry to give some additional details on the project itself.

Henry went over the history of the project, noting that the city has been working on replacing the aging downtown plant for more than two and a half years, with much of that time spent conducting the necessary water and soil studies, navigating the legislative red tape and going through the required permitting processes to establish a proper municipal wastewater treatment facility.

Henry said the Downtown plant project differs from the Hilltop Wastewater Treatment Plant project currently underway northeast of town in that, rather than going through the typical contracting process of soliciting bids, opening them, then going with the low-bidder - a process otherwise known as "design, bid, build" - the city has instead chosen to go with what's known as a "construction manager at-risk" process, a fairly new method in Arizona that allows the city to put out a request for proposal describing the nature of the project, then having multiple contractors attempt to "sell" their services to the city.

"We hire the engineer to create he design, and they're under our control, and then we hire the contractor based on qualifications," Henry said.

"Contractors will submit their documents showing why they think they're the best contractor for the job."

Henry explained that the construction manager at-risk method is better for ensuring the highest quality work is done, since the chosen contractor works with the city and the architect throughout the design process, and it can also save money since the contractor is more likely to spot problems in the design phase that can be addressed prior to construction.

Finally, he explained, the construction manager at-risk method requires the contractor to sign off on a guaranteed maximum price for the construction cost, so that even if there are unforeseen construction issues, the city need not foot the bill to resolve them. In the Downtown Treatment Plant's case, total construction, legal and other associated costs are estimated at $16.1 million, plus an additional $2.5 million that has already been spent on the plant's design.

Henry added that the design is currently 90 percent complete, with construction anticipated to begin in February.

The plant's construction is likely to take between 15 and 18 months, and part of the new plant must be built on top of one of the existing plant's two aerated lagoons, meaning that lagoon must be drained - a process Henry said will take an additional four to six months, based on the weather conditions.

City Finance Director Coral Loyd explained that the city would begin paying off its loan once the new plant is completed. The payments themselves will come from additional increases in the city municipal wastewater rate, though Loyd maintained that the city may be able to begin reducing the rate within five to 10 years of the plant's completion.

It should be noted that neither the Hilltop nor Downtown Wastewater Plant have any relation to recent increases in the city's municipal water rate, only the wastewater rate.

The water rate has also risen in recent years, and is scheduled for additional increases for the next two fiscal years, but those increases are designed to pay for unrelated upgrades to the city's water lines and well pumps. By law, the city must use its water and wastewater funds to pay for corresponding water and wastewater projects, rather than the general fund, which is generated by the city's 2-percent sales tax.

Mayor John Salem lamented, only half-seriously, that the city cannot continue simply dumping its sewage into a pair of open lagoons anymore due to the change in state and federal regulations.

On the flip side, however, he reasoned that having two open sewage lagoons in downtown Kingman might not be the best tourist attraction, either, so there could ultimately be a bright side to the bundles of taxpayer cash the city was preparing to spend.

Vice Mayor Robin Gordon made a motion to approve the loan agreement, with Erin Cochran seconding. The motion passed 6-0 with Councilwoman Janet Watson excused.

Re/Max - cdavidcooley (rentals/sales)
Related Stories:
• Final vote on higher wastewater rates today
• New wastewater plant also brings higher rates


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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Article comment by: tsol. Patriot

Prove that it was an emergency. Or else its just more lies and deceit.

Posted: Friday, November 5, 2010
Article comment by: Resident of Kingman

@Why-

Watson had a family emergency! There was no conflict. Get your facts straight before you spout off like you know what you are talking about!


Posted: Friday, November 5, 2010
Article comment by: Tom DeLay

This sewer debt is going to kill this City. All the thousands of septic tank users pay nothing, but receive environmental benefit. But with Pearce in power, he can do away with ADEQ, and WIFA, so maybe we can get out of paying the bill. After all sewer plants are really only for environmental wackos and with Pearce and the other right wingers, the environment is not important anyway.

Posted: Friday, November 5, 2010
Article comment by: How much will we pay

OK..The current water rate hikes will be a fond memory. After this gets going you may as well plan on a 100 dollar a month water bill.

I pay 55 now....using the crap system. Tell me a New system wont double that amount...Please tell me....You know the truth.



Posted: Friday, November 5, 2010
Article comment by: V Stokes

@Why...
Normally that means "excused from the meeting" for some reason...otherwise it would probably say "abstained".


Posted: Thursday, November 4, 2010
Article comment by: WHY WATSON EXCUSED??? ?????

Why did Watson excuse herself? This should be interesting to see what conflicts were there? They should have to disclose the exact reason they are excusing themselves from votes on certain issues. If they did we would see a huge trail emerge directly to the back scratching going on here in Kingman



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