The aging sewer plant infrastructure can no longer meet the needs of the City of Monroe City. Current board of alderman and city officials are now forced to figure out the next steps to provide the needs of the community. As the November ballot approaches, the City is looking at all options, searching for the best solution for the community and its residents. Mayor John Long shared, one option is for the City to take out a 10-million-dollar loan, stating, “The other option is to sell the sewer plant to a private company.”
The current sewer plant does not meet the needs of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) permit. Mayor Long stated, “The City has a permit with DNR and we have a Voluntary Compliance Agreement filed with DNR to work towards getting into compliance with several issues. We are having issues getting in compliance with what is coming into our facility with regards to copper and zinc.” The city is currently looking to isolate the source of the copper and zinc, attempting to figure where these materials are coming from. Mayor Long added, “In the past we have not had the manpower or time needed to do this,” sharing George Hausdorf, of PeopleService, Inc., is working to get this improved.
Recently, the City completed an industrial user survey to determine which facilities need to have a separate permit based on what they are releasing into their system. Currently, the only permit the city has is Arcadia Metalcraft. Mayor Long explained, “If other companies are identified to need a permit, they will have to have a pre-treatment process in house, which could be costly for them and could then turn into a major political issue.”
If the City decides to move forward to build a new sewer plant, Mayor Long explained, “Only best guess estimates can be provided at this time. Depending on the situation with regards to interest rates. The sooner that we are able to lock in a rate with USDA, the better.” The rate will depend on the amount of money needed to borrow. Currently the City has applied for a loan/grant with USDA and are still awaiting approval for them to allocate the funds. Mayor Long further explained, stating, “If we have to go with an outright loan then there will be a higher interest rate, higher principal balance, higher payment, which will all result in higher rates.”
The City did issue a new ordinance more than a month ago setting the new local limits. Prior to that, Mayor Long stated, “The city was allowing “stuff” to come in our system at a higher level than what we should have. When the levels coming in (which meet our prior ordinance limits) are higher than what we are allowed as a sewer facility, this can create a real issue. So, there are different processes that we need to do to get things in compliance for the permit in the near future.”