December 1, 2023 at 12:17 p.m.

Wastewater costs planned to increase for CLJSTC in 2024


By DENISE MARTIN | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment
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The Chisago Lakes Joint Sewage Treatment Commission met last week just one member into a five person majority, with four absent.  Marlys Dunne, Lloyd Vetter, Bob Gustafson and Claire Luger missed out on voting for a 6.9 percent budget hike for next year.  

CLJSTC Chair Lisa Iverson, mayor of Wyoming, remarked the 6.9 increase which was adopted on a 5-0 vote, allows for a “good budget...it falls in line,” with what she had in mind, she added.

Member Jeremy Dresel, Chisago City Council, took a little convincing but ultimately went along at 6.9 percent with the others.  Dresel felt the sewer treatment group has sufficient balance as-is, stating at first,  “I am okay with five percent (proposed.)”

The information provided showed a need to increase the sewer rates charged to the CLJSTC members, to cover the budget growth.  

Members are charged at $3.17 per 1,000 gallons currently and this would go to $3.39.

For comparison— North Branch has its own wastewater treatment plant and sewer system and collects $8.80 per 1,000 gallons, which was decreased in 2001 from $9.80 per 1,000 gallons.  Shafer City and Taylors Falls have stand-alone sewer plants as well. 

CLJSTC members are billed  according to each entity’s use metered as flow, that originates from City of Wyoming, Stacy, Chisago City, Lindstrom, Center City and the county’s access to the system.

The budget itself is shared and apportioned on the percentages of usage— Lindstrom has the most use and customers at 30.9 percent.  Chisago City is next at 25.5 with Wyoming at 23.12 percent of budget responsibility. Stacy is at 9.9 percent and Center City at 5.4.  The county (jail and government center) has a 4.6 percent contribution.

The commission switched the sewage treatment plant and collection network from being publically managed and went with contracting with a private firm, Veolia;  also seeking a 5.25 increase for 2024 in operations and maintenance expenses, tied to a consumer price index formula in the contract. Right now O & M is budgeted at $798,316.

Going with the 6.9 percent overall hike, the commission members agreed;  will leave the CLJSTC in the black without spending down reserves.

The good news facing the commission really comes in 2025 when the treatment plant debt service mostly retires.  The main plant debt is at $1.1 million annually now.  Debt drops to under half-a-million in 2025.

This structure of funding the wastewater treatment services is built on city sewer and water billings and collecting the outstanding billing is part of that.

Currently cities are ‘certifying” past due or seriously  delinquent accounts,  so the amount owed can be attached to property tax and becomes something that must be paid if a property changes hands.

In other business the CLJSTC voted 5-0 on the use of the Rural Water Fund  to finance the upcoming phase of projects.  

The main lift stations are scheduled for the next round of work or “phase four’ plus the system’s control panels, pumps and odor control equipment are also approaching replacement. Phase four is estimated at $1 million.  

The CLJSTC approved advertising for bids upon the request of engineer Daryl Kirschenman.  He reported the bids can be opened late in December, verified and the award could be done by the January 2024 CLJSTC meeting.

And, one last item, the commission owned tanker is for sale. It has a 4,000 gallon holding tank, circa 1992. MNBid website will have the description and take bids.


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