Wastewater rates likely to increase when infrastructure is upgraded

Image: Jewkes letter to the city council

Jewkes letter to the city council (Richard Jewkes)

The Smithfield City wastewater system has run 21 years without a rate increase, but dark clouds are on the horizon. City Manager, Jim Gass, reported to the council Wednesday evening that the lift station near the airport needs replacement and the Logan treatment plant will probably need an upgrade.

In 1989, Smithfield City built it’s first ever sewer system to bring wastewater from Smithfield to the Logan sewage treatment plant. A bond was passed and rates set. For 21 years the city maintained the system without a rate increase. To keep prices down the city ran in the red — using reserve funds — for several years before the bond was finally paid off in August 2009.

Today the city has one of the lowest wastewater rates in Cache Valley. If everything stayed the same, there is enough revenue to maintain the system and keep a little in reserve.

Unfortunately the lift station at the airport needs to be replaced. Methane gas from the wastewater is corroding the equipment. It takes a lot of maintenance to keep this all-important link running. Logan personnel report it will take over a million dollars to upgrade the station.

Additionally, the Logan discharge permits are up to renewal. According to Gass, the state hasn’t set final quality standards. The current plant meets the old standards but is unlikely to meet new ones. The Logan facility will need an upgrade. It is not known how much this system will cost.

All this information came from an annual self-assessment of the city wastewater system. Gass said everything is in great condition and will have many more years of use from the existing lines. The personnel are properly trained. The city makes regular inspections of the manholes and lines.

The state asks cities to voluntarily do an annual self-assessment to keep city leaders informed about the city’s infrastructure. Gass added that although the state says it’s voluntary, the city can’t receive state funds for future projects without doing the self-assessment regularly. So in reality, it’s a requirement.

Concealed weapons

Richard Jewkes read a statement to the council asking for an update the city weapons ordinance. Smithfield currently bans carrying concealed weapons except by law enforcement. The city also restricts carrying loaded weapons in vehicles.

According to Jewkes’ statement the State of Utah only specifically delegates to municipalities the authority to regulate the discharge of firearms. All other firearm regulations are reserved solely by the State of Utah. Concealed Firearm Permits (CPF) for individuals are a statewide right and cannot be regulated by the City of Smithfield.

“I understand that this has been discussed previously with city officials,” Jewkes read from his statement. “Rather than have the Smithfield City Police Officers take the approach that ‘we won’t enforce this section of the city code because we know it is against Utah State Law’, I feel it would be better to clean up the books so neither Police Officers nor CFP holders are put in an awkward position.”

Chief Johnny McCoy said that this issue had gotten past him when the State made the change. Jewkes’ comments were valid, added McCoy, he would take responsibility for not pursuing changing the code. He would be more than willing to jump on this and make recommendations to change the code to the council.

Police Station

The council rezoned the property east of city hall for use as a new police station. The canal running through the property will be rerouted to the east side. The new building will sit to the west side and will not encroach on the city property. There is still room for an alleyway for future commercial development inside the city block. There is also room for potential future library.