City council to consider water and sewer project, council member urges public to be informed
By Shiloh Appel
On Wednesday, October 3rd, a Redfield City Council member spoke with the Redfield Press about a sewer and water system project proposed by Helms and Associates at the October 1st city council meeting. According to his report, the proposed project would cost just under 20.5 million dollars. It would also increase the surcharge on water and sewer bills for Redfield residents by roughly 40 dollars a month for the next 40 years.
“I am against it for the simple reason of raised rates,” he said. “If we needed it, I would be all for it, but we don’t need it.”
On Thursday, October 4th, the Redfield Press reached out to city finance officer, Adam Hansen, for more information on the proposed project.
“All we have done is applied for a water and a sewer grant,” said Hansen. “What the meeting was Monday night was representatives of NECOG and Helms and Associates [came] to explain what the city was awarded and how we got to this point.”
Hansen said that everything began roughly before last spring when towns under 2,500 qualified for a water and sewer study. The city of Redfield had all water and sewer systems studied, and the state of South Dakota paid for the bulk of the study’s cost.
“What comes out of that is recommendations. In January or February we heard some of those recommendations. This is just one of the recommendations of the small planning water and sewer grant,” said Hansen, referring to the complete overhaul of current water and sewer mains referenced by one of the city council members. “I have a thick report on all of the recommendations.”
The city of Redfield was approved for a sanitary sewer system loan of approximately $7,980,000 and a grant of $5,186,000 as well as a water system improvements loan of $4,012,000 and a water system improvements grant of $3,274,000.
“These are very close numbers, but they are all just estimates,” said Hansen. “That is what we were awarded from USDA in grants and loans. The total cost of the project would be $20,452,000 according to these numbers here.”
Hansen confirmed that if the council did decide to go forward with the full project, rates would go up by roughly $40 a month for Redfield residents for the next 40 years.
“This option would be the biggest option. Everything else is smaller and littler options. This option would be to basically fix everything and have everything brand new underneath the ground,” said Hansen. “But the city can do whatever they want. They can go and do every one of them options or they can do none of them options. They can say, ‘thank you, but we are not doing anything.’ All that is is a planning tool. That is all that grant was that they did on our behalf.”
Hansen also said that Main Street would not need to be closed off or torn up again if the project went forward.
“What they would probably do is camera [the sewer] to make sure everything looked fine, and they would line that sewer. There is no reason — and it is asinine— to rip up something that is brand new, and we would not do that in this project,” said Hansen.
Hansen was also asked whether or not the proposed project would be put to a public vote.
“Basically, this does not have to be voted on by the people. This isn’t like the school or an opt out or that,” said Hansen. “In South Dakota codified law, there is a surcharge that the people that have been elected by the citizens of Redfield can vote on, and this is down that route. By law, it does not have to voted on [by the citizens of Redfield]. So that is a council decision.”
The Redfield City Council held a special meeting on Monday, October 8th to discuss the proposed project. During the meeting, council members discussed passing a camera through all water and sewer lines before deciding what needs to be replaced and what does not. The council also discussed pros and cons. Part of the full project would include new roads. However, it would take three years for the project and roads to be completed. During the discussion, council members touched on the fact that even though the project would increase rates for water and sewer, Redfield’s rates would still be far below the rates of surrounding towns. However, the council did not decide to come to a conclusion during Monday’s meeting. The council agreed to hold a hearing in order to inform the public before going forward with the project.
The first public hearing for the proposed water and sewer project will be held at 7p.m. on October 25th. The next city council meeting will be on Monday, October 15th at 7p.m.
Redfield residents are encouraged to state their views on the project.