By MARK EVANS
Mayor Paul Monia called Cochran Engineering’s report on the city’s water/sewer needs and its recommendations and estimated costs of more than $1.8 million for the entire project “eye opening.”
David Van Leer and T.J. Garbs gave about a 40-minute presentation to Monia and the Bloomsdale Board of Aldermen, during the board’s monthly meeting on April 13.
The exhaustive report showed residential, commercial and total water usage by month going back to 2016, traced the city’s population trends since 1970 and estimated it out as far as 2050, when the firm calculates population may be about 962.
It also touched on flow rates and storage capacity, both what the city has, what it would need to meet various requirements today and what it would need if those future population trends continue.
Monia praised the pair, saying they “brought something magnificent to the table.”
The cost, though, was sobering.
To replace the existing 79,000-gallon stand pipe with a 150,000-gallon multi-leg elevated storage tank, the total cost would be $975,000. If the city would opt for a 200,000-gallon tank, that would push it into the seven-figure range.
Meanwhile, three other components of the overall, long-range project were also priced out.
To replace 2,200 linear feet of aging four-inch transite water main along Highway Y and St. Agnes Drive from Jersey Lane to Interstate 55, with a new six-inch water main would cost $314,600.
To replace the four-inch transite pipe on Jersey Lane (1,600 linear feet), from Highway Y to the connection with Public Water Supply District No. 1 (PWSD1), with a new six-inch line would cost $228,800.
Finally, to replace 670 linear feet of existing four-inch transite pipe on Clement Road and add 1,405 linear feet of new six-inch main from Drury Court to Highway 61 would be $296,725.
HOW TO PAY IS A QUESTION
Funding will be challenging. With its medium income fairly high, Bloomsdale doesn’t qualify for many grants.
Monia expressed surprise that Bloomsdale water rates are considerably lower than many neighbors. (This was yet another chart Van Leer and Garbs presented.) At about $27 per 5,000 gallons of water, Bloomsdale is much lower than PWSD1, the city of Ste. Genevieve, or Jefferson County’s PWSD No. 12, all of whom are at $40 or above, and Jefferson County’s PWSD No. 6 and Perry County’s PWSD No. 1, which are both just below $40.
“This throws me,” Monia said. “This is something I have kept close tabs on and … it shocks me.
“The last time we were bumped up, we were probably leading this scale.”
An increase in water rates could help offset a little of the cost, down the road.
“That would be something I would definitely take into consideration, moving forward,” Monia said.
Certainly, how to approach the expense for the project is a big question, with the four phases totaling $1,815,125.
“I think the next thing we’re going to have to do is take a nice long, hard look at funding,” Monia said.
Van Leer said the Cochran staff would “sharpen our pencils” and come up with more precise cost estimates (including for both size water tanks) and will investigate possible funding sources.
In April 2018 Bloomsdale voters passed twin half-cent sales tax measures, one for capitol improvements, and one a transportation tax. They were passed with this anticipated project in mind.
The capital improvements tax can be used for virtually any purchase designed to be used two years or longer, including water lines and the sewage system.
The transportation sales tax can go for anything transportation related, such as maintaining or improving streets and sidewalks.
Both should come into play as the project progresses and the line replacement requires streets and sidewalks to be replaced.
However, the revenue from these will only cover a small fraction of the project. According to city clerk Lynnette Randoll, the capital gains tax brought in $90,130 in 2019 and $96,377 in 2020, for a total of $186,507 so far. At that rate, if work is ready to start in a year, it is likely to have about $275,000 in the account. By the end of five years, which is the target for completing all four phases. It would generate $466,268 at its current rate, or about one quarter of the total cost.
Bloomsdale aldermen had voted to enter into a five-year supervised program of water system improvements with Cochran for $26,500 at their Feb. 8 meeting,