NYA and Watertown to cooperate on wastewater treatment operator

Thanks to a helping hand from Watertown, the City of NYA will be able to save some costs on the operation of its wastewater treatment plant.

The city council approved an agreement with Watertown to share personnel during its meeting on Sept. 10 after the full retirement of NYA employee Jim Beckendorf, who previously operated the plant under his license.

Since the city is required by state law to have an individual that holds a B license or higher at the plant at least two days per week for at least two hours per day, Beckendorf’s retirement left city officials seeking different ways to fulfill that requirement.

One option was to contract with the city’s engineering firm, Bolton & Menk, for the service, but cooperating with a neighboring city and sharing personnel presented a cheaper alternative.

Watertown approved an arrangement late last month to share Utilities Superintendent Doug Kammerer for a period of up to six months at $50 per hour, including mileage, for about six to eight hours per week.

According to NYA City Administrator Tom Simmons, that price was only half the cost of using Bolton & Menk to fulfill the same requirement.

“I think it’s the best arrangement we can make right now,” said Simmons, adding that the city was considering Kammerer an outside consultant, and Kammerer would provide a report on his activities to both city administrators.

“It’s basically a break even point for us,” Watertown City Administrator Luke Fischer said. “We don’t generate too much additional revenue with that, but it enables us to recoup any costs we may have associated with the sharing.”

While Watertown does not expect to generate much revenue from the arrangement, Fischer said it would generate enough to fund an intern or temporary position during the term of the agreement. If the workload becomes too much with Kammerer being absent for as many as 10 hours per week, the additional revenue from the sharing would essentially cover a part time employee for those 10 hours, similar to the current water and sewer intern that makes $12 per hour.

“If we get into that position, we’ve found a way that we can staff back up and stay cost neutral,” Fischer explained.

The basic framework for the sharing model comes from a joint powers agreement that was signed by all the communities in Carver County earlier this year, which provides guidelines for sharing resources between communities within the county.

NYA City Council members approved the arrangement with the understanding that the arrangement would be reviewed in three months to make sure it was working for all concerned.

Kammerer said that he has worked under similar arrangement in the past, helping out in one town until they hired a licensed operator. He said he is looking forward to helping Norwood Young America.

“One of my goals is to help out the small communities,” Kammerer told the Watertown Council. “It’s the reason I’m still here, and it’s the reason I’d like to help Norwood.”