July 28, 2008

Heyburn Council Discusses Sewer Project

By Damon Hunzeker, The Times-News, Twin Falls, Idaho

Jul. 28--Of the functions most important for local governments to operate smoothly, sewage control may rank near or at the top.

After passing a motion to "approve paying the bills" Wednesday night, the Heyburn City Council agreed on a plan to complete the ongoing renovation of the Heyburn Wastewater Treat-ment Plant.

"Because of the drawn-out process of getting the sewer project going, prices have increased, and we've fallen short," City Clerk Linda Dayley later said, referring to cost overruns following the original $5 million sewer bond.

The council's plan to finish the project involves awarding a bid of $5.2 million to Gerber Construction, which was approved at the meeting. Next, the city will pay off an outstanding debt to the Idaho Department of En-vironmental Quality, after which it will borrow more money from the U.S. Depart-ment of Agriculture-Rural Development.

City Superintendent Scott Spevak recommended paying off the DEQ debt early, and the council agreed.

Eliminating the debt would make the city eligible for a $250,000 grant.

"Now we need to discuss how we're going to pay it back," Mayor George Ander-son said, "and that includes the possibility of borrowing $1 million from USDA-RD."

That's where the grant comes from -- so, while it will be considered a $1 million loan, a quarter of that will be offset by the grant, making it a $750,000 loan.

Regarding the amount of the outstanding DEQ loan, it could be $418,000, Dayley estimated.

"I don't have that exact figure. Until it finalizes, it will change," she said. "We have four years left on it, and it's maybe $418,000 -- but that's not exact."

The outcome of the council's plan is indefinite.

"The project was more than we anticipated," Lanford said. "It (the loan/grant) is in the works, but we like to give the congressional folks time to announce these projects before the local folks."

Damon Hunzeker may be reached at 208-420-4697 or [email protected]


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