Public Meeting Set For March 3; Water Rate Increase Possible
Water, it’s one of the most important functions in a municipality. While the city of Glasgow has finished the updates to the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), it now is looking at possible future improvements to the city’s Water Treatment Plant (WTP).
The public is invited to attend a public meeting at the city council chambers on Monday, March 3, at 5:30 p.m. Glasgow Director of Public Works Robert “Bob” Kompel explained that the preliminary engineering report (PER) is just in the beginning phases to take a closer work at what improvements might be necessary at the WTP.
The city and the water department staff have been collecting data and information requested by Morrison-Maierle to prep for the PER. The assessment will give a clear idea on what the water department might be looking at for updates and repairs on a WTP that has parts dating back to the early 1960s.
“Part of what is driving this is we know that there are some parts and components nearing the end of their useful life at the Water Treatment Plant,” Kompel said.
Kompel explained that much of the piping system has been kept up and upgraded in most cases, but the distribution and and treatment areas could use some improvements. Morrison Maierle is an engineering consultant that will help with an engineering study to find which areas that might need to be prioritized. The finalized PER will also help when applying for grants and loans to fund possible future projects and upgrades.
The hope is to get some public input at the meeting and educate those interested in what could be taking place at the WTP. In a memo to the city council in January, Kompel explained this will be the first meeting of more to come. This is just the conceptual phase to help get their feet on the ground.
“The purpose is to look at the bigger picture and not to just look and the smaller components,” Kompel said. “We’ve had no major repairs yet, but we want to get caught up before something major happens.”
Other issues that might come up is the potential of rising costs for water and sewer rates. In a memo to the city council, Kompel noted that the Montana Department of Commerce released the target rates for sewer and water in the state and that Glasgow is below those target rates. According to the Department of Commerce, the water and sewer rates should cost around 2.3 percent of the annual median household income. That would bring Glasgow’s target rate to around $79 per month. The city currently charges around $59 per month. In a couple of months those rates will increase another $5.
With possible bigger projects ahead and the costs of maintenance increasing the PER might help take a closer look at the revenue of water and sewer rates are bringing in and what might be necessary in the near future. Kompel explained that there are a few options the city can look at, either an incremental raise each year over a long span of time, or long spells with no increases and then a large jump.
“The state has been pushing for more incremental raises instead of a big jump,” Kompel said. “Historically, Glasgow has been discouraged to increase incrementally here.”
Kompel explained in his memo that the city will have to look at rates in order to apply for grants through the Community Development Block Grant Program and the Treasure State Endowment Program. Part of the PER will study the current rates and provide a closer detail on the rate calculation.