Treatment plant costs for operations taking shape

By Hank Lohmeyer

The annual bill for electricity at the new Cedaredge sewer treatment plant will be "super expensive," the public works department reported at an Aug. 18 budget work session.

Costs for electricity are expected to be $42,000 next year based on costs so far this year. The plant's location requires that effluent be pumped up hill 400 feet and a mile away to the discharge point at Surface Creek. A more cost effective location where effluent flows down hill by gravity to the discharge point was rejected by trustees in 2013. That was because of complaints from people in the Deer Creek and Stonebridge neighborhoods about locating the plant near their homes at the golf course. Electricity is also used for running aerators at the new plant.

Other expected big costs for sewer plant operations are $14,000 for new treatment chemicals that the plant will require, and also for lab testing. Contract services are budgeted at $22,000.

Other budget issues discussed at last week's session included:

• An employee wage proposal of up to 3 percent merit increases to be given out by department managers is likely to make its way into the 2017 budget.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, annual inflation in the U.S. has run less than 3 percent every year since 2009, and is hovering at 1 percent this year.

If adopted and fully implemented the increase would add $48,266 to general fund payroll including administration, police and public works; $12,548 in cost to the water fund; $2,651 to the sewer fund; and $6,001 to the golf fund.

• Police are looking to change from .40 caliber duty pistols to the more popular 9mm. Firearms will last longer, the chief said, and ammunition is half as expensive. He wants to buy new 9mm Glock pistols outfitted with laser sights.

• On the Cedaredge Police Department's "wish list" for capital spending are: A new vehicle every year on a three-year rotation for a $35,000 annual cost; a new/used animal control vehicle at $10,000; body cameras, building security cameras, radar and radios totalling $11,500; other tactical gear and training round out the department's $80,000 total capital improvements request.

• Chemical storage is a priority at the golf course. Managers want to find an alternative to storing golf course pesticides in a wooden storage area underneath the clubhouse and restaurant. The town's insurance carrier has cautioned against the practice.

• Administration hopes to complete the finance package of zero-interest loans, loan forgiveness deals, and grants to pay for the $1 million water line project along south Grand Mesa Drive (Highway 65). "There are no reserves to pay for the work," said town administrator Katie Sickles.

• The town is working to refinance a loan from USDA Rural Development for previous water line replacement in town. The buyout of Upper Surface Creek Domestic Water User Associations' interest in the town treatment plant, a possible $175,000 expense this year, may also be rolled into the package.

• A truck bed mounted sander for public works to replace one that broke down repeatedly during last year's big Christmas Eve snow storm is in the public works budget, a $7,500 expense.