By Michael Howell
At its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, November 28, the Stevensville Town Council approved a resolution confirming the issuance of $780,000 in sewer system revenue bonds to help pay for Phase II of the town’s sewer system improvement project.
The total cost of the improvement project is estimated at about $1,378,000. The town has received a $395,000 USDA grant, a $100,000 DNRC Renewable Resource grant, and is contributing $103,000 from town funds which, added to the $780,000 in bonds, cover the total cost. Bond payments are stretched over a forty-year period and recent sewer rate hikes, with additional smaller increases yet to be implemented, will hopefully cover the operational and maintenance costs of the improved system. A study is planned to confirm that these rates will meet the requirements, but it is believed that they will, according to Mayor Gene Mim Mack.
The Council also approved a change order to the sewer project adding $4,871 to install snow breaks on the roof of the building housing the newly installed ultra-violet treatment system and to pay for NorthWestern Energy to reconfigure the electrical services. This cost will be covered by the existing grant funds for the project.
A change order adding $4,320 to the water meter installation project was also approved. The $30,035 project to install water meters for all water users is also grant funded and involves installation of new meters on all currently non-metered water users. The meters will be readable automatically by a radio frequency reader. The additional cost was due to the discovery of 95 meters in the system that cannot be adapted to the new reading device and must be removed and replaced.
The Council also approved a procedure for providing “Final Notice” to residents who have not yet made arrangements to have their new meters installed. It will consist of a letter advising the resident that their water supply will be shut off on a certain date if they have not made an appointment for the installation. It will be followed up by a door knob hangar notice a few days prior to the shutoff date. There is no cost to the homeowner for the new meter or the installation as the project is grant funded.
There was a lot of discussion surrounding the town’s two prospective well field projects.
A six-acre tract of land with a production well already installed was promised to be transferred to the town upon filing of the final plat for the Twin Creeks Subdivision on Middle Burnt Fork as part of the conditions of approval for the subdivision. But the developer of that subdivision, John Anderson, has declared bankruptcy and the property is being foreclosed on by Missoula Federal Credit Union (MFCU). MFCU has hired Nathan Lucke of Territorial Landworks, the same consultant who developed the subdivision plans for Anderson, to proceed with the project on behalf of the credit union.
One hang-up with the project is the Town’s requirement that it receives clear title to the property. However, a lease agreement with an adjacent property owner for grazing cattle on the property still clouds the title. According to Mayor Mim Mack, who is involved in ongoing talks with MCFU, the credit union plans on resolving these issues and believes that the matter will be resolved in anywhere from two weeks to six months. The credit union has asked for an extension of the filing deadline for the subdivision plat which expires on December 31. The council will consider that request at its next meeting.
In the meantime the town has also been working on potential acquisition of an alternative well site on property currently owned by Allen and Janice Kelley on Middle Burnt Fork. An initial test well on that site showed that sufficient water quantity was available but that too much sand was mixed with it, not allowing sufficient flow for the town’s requirements. The council is currently considering a plan to drill a very large diameter well that will be packed with gravel surrounding an inner well casing which may provide sufficient filtering. Due to the unusual nature of the project and the large diameter size of the well, the town may have to advertise nationally for a company capable of bidding on the project.
The Council decided to sign a buy-sell agreement on the property with the Kelleys that will expire on March 1, 2012. The vote was three to 1 with Councilor Desera Towle dissenting.
The Council also approved the purchase of a used Suburban for $1,500 for use by the Fire Department. The funds will come out of the Fire Department’s budget.