Cologne council OK’s preliminary levy, mulls water main project

Cologne Jake Saulsburyby ADAM GRUENEWALD
NYA Times

Cologne council members considered a water main project while also setting their preliminary levy last Tuesday.
While no final decisions were made on the project, the council approved moving forward with the loan process and survey work.
The city first started looking at the potential project in 2008, according to City Engineer Jake Saulsbury of Bolton and Menk. Saulsbury explained that there are two main issues that would be resolved by the project with an estimated cost of $560,000 and anticipated construction as early as July 2014.
One is concerning essentially two separate systems and the other is an aging water main.
“It’s been a lingering issue for a while now,” said Saulsbury. “There is only one main that connects the north side of town to the south side of town so that makes the system almost act as two separate systems… because there is just a 6-inch main connecting the two.”
The new main would be larger and also connect with the County 36 water main line, which would be replaced up to Paul Avenue, creating two connections.
The other facet of the project is the replacement of an older main along Lake Street that is wearing out and has had four water main breaks in the last four years.
“It was cleaned a couple of years to try and remove some of the gunk that people have complaining about,” he said. “With the long dead end you have to flush it more frequently and there are maintenance issues that go along with that.”
The project is being brought up again because, unlike in the past, it now qualifies for state-funded Public Facilities Authority Financing, giving the city a better benefit in terms of loan interest payments at under 2 percent, or as low as 1.75 percent, well below a standard bond. The PFA could save the city as much as $100,000 over a 20-year loan, Saulsbury said.
“It’s not very common that this project would be able to be financed by the PFA,” said Saulsbury. “It could be there again next year, it’s hard to say. I would say it’s highly unlikely.”
Saulsbury said the project would benefit the city by providing better water quality and circulation across the system, improving the system reliability in terms of less breaks and increasing fire flow on the south side of town from 500 gallons per minute to as much as 2,000 gallons per minute.
City Administrator John Hendel said the city is in a good position to pay for the project, estimated annually at $32,600, with another PFA loan, at $105,600 annually, due to complete in the next few years.
“We have the opportunity here to possibly get this project going,” said Hendel, mentioning rates could be adjusted temporarily before future growth could increase revenues in the future. “We’re looking at a project that not only benefits people in the Hans Hagen Development, it ultimately benefits everyone within the city.”
The council is expected to revisit the project in October.
Council members also approved a preliminary general fund budget of $1,099,110 and a preliminary 2014 tax levy at a maximum of a 4 percent increase at $37,947. Council members agreed they don’t expect to utilize the entire increase and several budget workshops are planned in the coming months and a budget hearing has been set for Dec. 2.
In other news, the council approved two speed limit signs along Village Parkway for $106.75 each and rejected a request for looking at adjusting the city ordinances to accommodate chickens.
The Cologne City Council will next meet on Monday, Sept. 16, at 7 p.m.

Contact Adam Gruenewald at [email protected]