Youngstown council OKs borrowing up to $33.5 million for waste plant work

Published: Thu, April 19, 2018 @ 12:04 a.m.

By David Skolnick


City council authorized the board of control to borrow up to $33.5 million for federally required work at the wastewater treatment plant.

Council initially had been asked by the administration of Mayor Jamael Tito Brown to allow the board to borrow as much as $43.5 million. But the cost of one of the projects at the plant was reduced after proposals for it were opened. Council on Wednesday night amended the legislation to the lower amount.

The loans for the work at the Poland Avenue facility will be paid back over 20 years with sewer fees.

The city is paying $66,240 to Arcadis, an international firm with an office in Akron, to do a sewer rate study to determine how much the fees need to rise in order to pay for this and other federally mandated wastewater projects.

The study will be finished in about four months and will help the city decide the rate increase, said Kyle Miasek, interim finance director.

The monthly sewer rate is currently $98.87 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The city negotiated an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2014 to spend about $150 million over 20 years to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant, construct a new facility near the plant to better control sewage in heavier rainfalls and construct an interceptor sewer to keep wastewater from flowing into Mill Creek Park.

Of the three projects to get council’s approval, the most expensive was originally pegged at $30 million. It’s to construct a pump station that would increase the amount of daily wastewater treated at the plant from 65 million gallons to 80 million gallons, said Charles Shasho, deputy director of public works.

Proposals, however, were recently opened with the lowest amount for about $18.5 million, he said.

Because of that, council voted to lower the amount to be borrowed to be up to $20 million.

The city hasn’t sought proposals at this point for the two other projects, but will do so in the coming months, Shasho said.

One project is for up to $8.5 million to construct an ultraviolet-ray system to replace liquid chlorine used to disinfect wastewater, and the other is for up to $5 million to do electrical improvements to the treatment facility, Shasho said.

Shasho said the cost of improvement work related to the treatment facility has on average been about 27 percent lower than estimated, so he’s optimistic the amounts borrowed won’t be as high as the limits.

All three projects will start this year and be finished by 2020, Shasho said.

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