The city of Perryville is in need of a new sewer plant, city officials say. They’re looking to replace their existing 40-year-old plant through three ballot initiatives during the August 7 election, which will ask voters to consider renewing taxes that helped pay for a water plant 20 years ago.
City administrator Brent Buerck says the current sewer plant has reached the end of its useful life and with recent job, housing, and commercial growth in the city, a new plant is necessary.
“Unfortunately the design, being a trickling filter, in the 70’s it was popular technology. It’s now simply antiquated. It doesn’t treat things like ammonia, phosphorus, or metals,” says Buerck. “It just wasn’t designed to provide a high level of treatment for those things, which are coming in permits now. We’re already seeing ammonia violations.”
In addition to treatment issues, the existing sewer system struggles with any amount over 1.1 million gallons per day, when it was built to handle 1.8 million. On rotating arms of the plant, cinder blocks have been put in place to hold pieces together, and the sand filter on the structure does not work. Buerck says 40 years is a long time, especially in the life of a sewer plant.
“The stuff that runs through a sewer plant, as you can imagine, is pretty harsh on different things,” says Buerck. “We’ve been doing what we need to do to get by to this point.”
Buerck says they've completed the loan paperwork for a new plant, and as of several weeks ago, they can lock in at 1.32% interest for 20 years, a rate he says they are excited about.
The city estimates their current 3/8 of $0.01 sales tax would generate $8.5 million for a new plant, and their existing 1/4 of $0.01 property tax levee would generate over $5.1 million. The rest would be made up of existing rates. The bond issue is made up of three separate ballot initiatives: to continue their existing sales tax, to continue the existing property tax, and to get voter permission for the city to borrow the money structure using existing rates. Each must be approved for the proposed plan to work.
A no vote on the issue would indicate that the city has to rethink the plan, which could include rate increases or a different tax structure. If approved, the plan would sunset in 20 years.
Buerck explains that, in the case of a rate increase, it would not be directly related to the new plant project.
“Everything is in place now, we just want to continue things as they are now. And, we need authorization to borrow money,” says Buerck.