The city of Warrenton will ask voters to approve a $13 million bond issue for expansion of the city’s sewage treatment plant and upgrades to the city water system. City officials say their …
The city of Warrenton will ask voters to approve a $13 million bond issue for expansion of the city’s sewage treatment plant and upgrades to the city water system. City officials say their facilities need to be improved in order to accommodate the continued influx of new homes and businesses to the area.
Bonds are a type of loan that public entities can acquire by promising to repay their debt using taxes or other public funding. Bonds require voter approval because they come with a guarantee that the city government will raise whatever funding is necessary to pay them back, including by raising taxes.
However, this $13 million bond for the utility systems won’t require any tax increase, City Administrator Brandie Walters said during a Jan. 3 public meeting. Instead, the city would plan on paying back the debt by continuing to increase fees for water and sewer usage by a small amount every year.
The city estimates that a $13 million bond would cause utility bills to go up by about 5 percent, Walters said.
Warrenton has made it a policy to increase charges for water and sewer service every year, usually by 4 percent, in order to offset the cost of debt and inflation.
It’s also worth noting that Truesdale residents and businesses get their sewer service from the Warrenton treatment plant, and are therefore affected by that side of the rate increases. However, Truesdale residents do not get a vote on Warrenton’s bond proposals.
The Warrenton sewage plant needs to be upgraded in three phases in order to double its sewage capacity and increase efficiency, Walters explained. The city’s water system on the south side of town also need to be upgraded in order to improve water pressure for a growing number of houses.
The $13 million bond would cover the cost of water system upgrades and the first phase of the sewage plant expansion, Walters said. It could even potentially cover the second phase at the sewage plant, depending on what the cost of the work ends up being, she added.
Initial construction at the sewage treatment plant would be initiated as soon as possible, with a target completion date of 2024 for the first phase, Walters said.
The third phase at the sewage plant is currently estimated to cost an additional $7 million, although that cost is liable to go up over the next few years, judging by recent trends in construction. The third phase of the expansion might not be initiated until nine or ten years from now, Walters said.
Aldermen gave their initial approval for the $13 million bond issue on Jan. 3, and will hold a final vote on the matter Jan. 17. The bond issue would be placed on election ballots April 4.
The last time voters approved a bond issue for Warrenton’s sewer system was in 2014, when $15.5 million was sought to install larger sewer mains around the city and make some initial improvements to the sewage plant.