By Kathryn Rice
The City of Skidmore is seeking approval of a $1 million bond issue for the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) on the Tuesday, April 3 election ballot.
Skidmore has received Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) notifications that the WWTP discharge is out of compliance with permit water quality limits. This causes health and sanitation hazards downstream.
The violations have caused Skidmore to be elevated to the enforcement division of DNR and given a September 2019 deadline to meet discharge requirements. Reports are submitted in the interim documenting continual progress toward compliance of which this bond proposal is one.
The question reads, “Shall the City of Skidmore, Missouri, issue its combined waterworks and sewerage system revenue bonds in the amount of $1,000,000 for the purpose of extending and improving the combined waterworks and sewerage system of the city, including acquiring land and rights of way, the cost of operation and maintenance of said combined waterworks and sewerage system and the principal of and interest on said revenue bonds to be payable solely from the revenues derived by the city from the operation of its combined waterworks and sewerage system, including all future improvements and extensions thereto?”
The council has been exploring the issue for over a year, with the help of Snyder and Associates, St. Joseph. Three proposals were presented in February 2017 ranging from $825,000 to $3.6 million. The council voted in March 2017 for the lower cost proposal which is aimed at rehabilitating the current sewer plant and upgrading the system. A DNR grant was used to pay Snyder for the bid proposals.
“I was employed by the City of Skidmore as the water/wastewater super in 2007,” current City Council Member Karen Kepka said. “Even back then, the DNR was getting heavy handed about the condition of our sewer system. It was just a matter of time before we’d be forced to upgrade.”
She told of how the DNR wastewater superintendent would bring people to see the Skidmore “trickle wheel,” the only one still in operation in Missouri at that time.
“Today, that trickle wheel is still barely working and continually breaks down costing the city money to keep it repaired,” she said.
“By passing the bond issue, we will be able to update our sewer plant and repair or replace many lines within the city,” City Council Member Rick Allen said. “We would no longer be in violation with DNR. This would also reduce our repair cost on our old system that we have been spending.”
To meet regulatory requirements, the city proposes:
• Sewer collection system improvements to reduce high inflow and infiltration including strategic sewer main and cleanout repair, manhole replacement, camper dump plug replacement and cleaning with video inspection.
• Rehabilitation of the existing trickling filter, addition of an ultraviolet disinfection system, biosolids drying bed improvements and associated general site work.
Based on the Preliminary Engineering Report, the city council is expecting sewer rates to eventually raise to approximately $42 for the base rate, per household, per month.
“The council hates that the sewer rates will have to take a hike,” Mayor Tracy Shewey said. “No one wants to have their rates increased. However, an increase is necessary in order to proceed to update the system and to make it work properly. Equally important, it will keep the city in compliance with Missouri Department of Natural Resources and keep us from being fined $10,000 a day for being out of compliance.
“The rates will increase gradually over an estimated three year time period,” she continued. “They will possibly increase a total of $30. I hope the citizens of Skidmore will realize that this is a much needed project and will vote to approve the $1 million bond that is needed to fund the project.
“Something has to be done right now and increased rates will have to be implemented no matter what is done to improve the city’s sewer system.”