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Milford Beacon
  • Council schedules special election for proposed water systems improvement loan

  • Milford City Council voted unanimously Monday night to move forward with the referendum process to accept a $3.5 million loan from the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund for water system upgrades and repairs.
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  • Milford City Council voted unanimously Monday night to move forward with the referendum process to accept a $3.5 million loan from the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund for water system upgrades and repairs.
    The issue is expected to go to referendum by the end of March, said City Manager Richard Carmean prior to the meeting. A referendum is needed because paying back the loan over a 20-year period, even with its 1.5-percent interest rate, will require an increase in water utility costs for residents.
    With the average customer’s monthly water bill at approximately $13.50, average users will see a monthly increase of about $1.18. The average usage was determined based on a year-long water bill report, said Erik Retzlaff, Davis, Bowen & Friedel Associate, as he explained the reasoning for the project during Monday night’s public hearing.
    Retzlaff offered a break-down of the project, explaining that the $3.5-million undertaking is basically a three-fold project. The requested loan will cover the costs of maintenance and repairs of faulty isolation valves throughout Milford’s entire water system, which consists of 2,500 valves. Retzlaff explained that currently the status and location of some valves is completely unknown, and that it takes hours to address problems if crews are unable to identify where valve shut offs are located. Secondly, the money will provide the city with the ability to work on treatment facilities as two of the city’s three facilities are now approximately 27 years old. Retzlaff illustrated an issue at the 10th Street facility that occurred Monday morning requiring crews to bypass a portion of the facility’s water treatment equipment. Lastly, the requested loan will fully fund the integration of SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) monitoring so that crews can work more efficiently to locate and identify problems, as well as take advantage of areas of higher production, Retzlaff explained.
    “The scope of work included in this project is stuff you’d have to do in the next three to five years,” Retzlaff said to the council. “We’re struggling with the valves for the S.E. Front Street project now.”
    During the public hearing, two local residents voiced their support and concerns for accepting the loan.
    Milford resident Joe Palermo said he agreed with the decision to accept the loan, citing that there is also a need to ensure that all of the city’s fire hydrants are operational.
    Milford resident Bob Connelly questioned the council as to why the city needed to borrow money for a loan when, ideally, water reserve funds should be able to cover the cost of the project. He argued that the impact fee waivers that the city had previously awarded new residential and commercial entities has taken away from the ability to keep reserves healthy enough to fund a water system upgrade project.
    Page 2 of 2 - Carmean agreed that without the waiver of impact fees for new residential and commercial properties, the city would probably have an additional $500,000 to $600,000 in reserves, but that a loan would still be needed in order to tackle the city’s entire water system for upgrades, maintenance and data collection.
    The council voted 8-0 to accept the terms of the loan and to schedule a special election to be held March 29 for residents to vote for or against the proposed borrowing. The election will be held at City Hall between 12 p.m. and 8 p.m.
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