Baldwin City Council approves $175,000 sewer line extension for industrial park
In what was a mulligan on a do-over, the Baldwin City Council voted 5-0 Monday to construct a sewer to the industrial park for an estimated $175,000.
If the sewer line project sounds familiar, it’s because the same sewer line was to be part of a proposed voluntary annexation the council considered last month. As part of their request to have land on the city’s northeast shoulder between the Heritage addition and the industrial park annexed, Roger Johnson and Glenn Rockers proposed installing a sewer line through the southern end of the property at their expense. Had the annexation been approved, it would have cost the city $40,000 to extend the sewer line from the annexed property into the industrial park.
That voluntary annexation request was withdrawn, however, after the council voted 3-2 on July 6 to table the measure’s second and final reading. Councilmen Steve Bauer and Dave Simmons asked that the annexation be delayed because information on the sewer line serving the industrial park wasn’t shared with the council before the first reading of the measure in June.
With the annexation request’s withdrawal, it appeared the opportunity to deliver city sewer service to the industrial park, where businesses now operate with septic systems, was gone. It resurfaced and was placed on Monday’s agenda after Mayor Marilyn Pearse asked Baldwin City public works director Bill Winegar to develop a plan for the city to extend the sewer line.
“Bill did this at my request,” she said. “I really thought it was important to try to get this done so that we could have sewer service out there and, quite frankly, mend fences with some of our neighbors.”
Pearse argued the extension was an economic development initiative that would allow businesses with failing or at-capacity septic systems, such as Heritage Tractor, to expand. It could help prompt future residential or commercial growth, she said.
In his comments to the council, Winegar proposed that the city act as general manager of the project. He was in the process of developing costs for labor, equipment and materials and was confident the project could be completed for $175,000.
Winegar asked for the council’s approval authorization to execute contracts for the project so that the sewer line could be installed before work started on the U.S. Highway 56/High Street realignment. That project is to get underway late this month or early in September. Once the realignment is done, it would cost the city another $40,000 to bore under the newly relocated High Street north of the highway to install sewer pipe, he said.
The city would pay Johnson and Rockers $6,000 as compensation for the project’s engineering, which they paid for before withdrawing the annexation request, Winegar said.
Business owners in the park will be responsible for the cost of getting sewer line from their buildings to the line’s terminus, Winegar said. In addition, some will have to install lift stations to get sewerage to that point, he said.
Council members asked about the possibility of creating a benefit district to pay for the line, but were told by City Administrator Chris Lowe and City Attorney Matt Hoy that such an arrangement wouldn’t work because the sewer line would benefit future development not in the city limits. State statute doesn’t allow properties outside of city limits to be included in benefit districts, they said.
There is $255,000 in the sewer department’s reserve, which could pay of the project. However, Lowe said he wouldn’t recommend depleting the reserve to that extent. Rather, he suggested the project be rolled into a bond issue with the $500,000 of needed upgrades to the sewer plant.
The council initially voted 4-1 to authorize Winegar to execute contracts for the project with Bauer voting no. However, after discussion of linking the bonding of the new sewer line and sewer plant improvements with financing for upgraded east-side sewer line capacity, Bauer asked that the vote on the sewer line be reconsidered. During the second vote, he joined the rest of the council in supporting the measure.