City continues to deal with plant issues

By Katy Nesbitt, The Observer May 16, 2013 12:13 pm
The City of Enterprise continues to tackle the challenges of supporting its state-of-the-art water treatment plant while looking forward to implementing a new master water plan.

With the city’s budget hearing coming up May 22, the council is faced with raising sewer rates to compensate for revenue losses realized after a new rate structure was put in place last year. The city underwent a long process to make sewer rates more equitable, especially for commercial water users, but that left a $65,000 shortfall during the 2013 fiscal year.

“The sewer doesn’t operate on a profit, and we are not able to transfer funds to cover the costs,” said City Administrator Michele Young. 

The council is considering raising the sewer rates for the first time since 2009 between 2 percent and 5 percent. Council member Stacey Karvoski suggested Young provide a spreadsheet of the differences in possible rate changes at the budget meeting next week so they can weigh the options. At the current rate of $56.50 per month, a 2-percent increase would be $1.13 a month and a 5-percent hike would equal $2.83 per month.

The city’s new wastewater treatment plant came online in June 2010. In December 2012, a power outage caused $13,000 in damage. Young said Pacific Power and Light denies any responsibility for the damage, blaming the outage on a problem with Idaho Power. The city has added surge protection devices to help prevent future damages, said Public Works Director Ronnie Neil.

“There were a couple power outages, but not enough proof to know what the problem was,” Young said.

A separate electrical issue the city was forced to fix recently was faulty wiring in three conduits, Neil said.

Going forward, the city council adopted a $5 million new master water plan this winter prepared by Anderson Perry and Associates of
La Grande. 

The city was forced to develop the plan because of a letter of non-compliance received from the state stating water pressure in some parts of town is insufficient. The low pressure also triggered the ISO fire rating to go up three points, which may cause property insurance premiums to rise.

Young said an information pamphlet regarding the plan will be sent out in June with the water report. Public meetings will be held in the coming year before work begins in 2014. The plan is scheduled for completion in 2016.