A multi-faceted water master plan for Brazil will not cause tax increases but will ideally save the city funds, Mayor Tom Arthur announced at the Tuesday meeting of the Brazil City Council.
Council members voted unanimously to table Ordinance 3-2005, which provides for an additional appropriation from the Economic Development Fund, until members have the opportunity to learn more about the proposal.
In January, the Clay County Redevelopment Commission passed a resolution approving $17,000 to fund a water study to determine the most financially viable means to create economic development within the Economic Development District at I-70 and State Road 59.
Details of Ordinance 3-2005 indicate the Brazil Water Department believes conducting a water leak survey and calibrating master meters to detect major leaks and verify that meters are accurately monitoring water flow would be beneficial, and city administration also recognizes a need to conduct a rate study to establish a plan to fund necessary improvements. A sum of $1,500 will also go toward Web site design.
"Whereas, in today's society companies no longer seek brochures about community services, but rather seek the information online, thus the city has created and developed a new Web site, and; whereas, the City Council understands the importance of creating an environment that is conducive to job creation and feels it is necessary to conduct the following studies to develop a master plan for the water department."
In addition to funding for the Web site, the additional appropriation includes $5,000 for a water study, $20,000 for a leak survey, $10,000 for the calibration of master meters and $30,000 for a rate study. The Mayor said the total cost of the water master plan project is estimated at $67,000, and the city's Economic Development Fund has a current balance of a little more than $71,000.
The water study would map the city's water system and would include lines and a comprehensive model of how the system should function. Potential grant funding could also be available for the project. Responding to an inquiry by Councilman Jim Sheese, Arthur said the I-70 and S.R. 59 area will be included, but is not the primary reason for the study. The new water master plan will update one from 1997.
"Right now we're faced with 40 percent loss ratios," the Mayor said, explaining that of 53 million gallons, only 36 million gallons are billed by the city. "We're trying to find where those leaks are."
Meter calibration is intended to check the master meter to ensure everything is functioning as it should be.
While Councilman Bill Lovett questioned what exactly would be studied as part of a rate study, Arthur stressed he will not be proposing any rate increases, but will assess what areas need to be fixed.
"If we can improve by 25 percent, we could save in the neighborhood of $100,000 per year," he said.
Improvements could also mean shutting the water plant down for one shift per day. The water project would be bid out, the Mayor added, and sensors could be used to "listen" for leaks in the city's lines.
Meanwhile, Sheese voiced his concern that the project would primarily serve the I-70 and S.R. 59 area, and had problems justifying the cost when there may be more pressing concerns.
"I hate to see us spend 60 some-odd dollars when we have hydrants in the city that don't work," he said.
Brazil Fire Department Chief Tobey Archer told the Council that 70 hydrants need to be replaced, with price tags of $1,500 each for the hydrants and $2,500 each for installation and labor. Part of the problem stems from not having the necessary valves in the system.
"Maybe that's where we're losing a lot of our water - valves that don't work," Sheese said.
After Councilwoman Pat Heffner said she didn't think she was yet knowledgeable enough about the matter to make an informed decision, Council members were in agreement and tabled the ordinance. City Attorney Joe Trout suggested members talk to City Engineer Brian Pohlar, who may have more information and explanations for members.
The Brazil City Council regularly meets the second and fourth Tuesday of the month in Council Chambers at City Hall. Meetings begin at 7 p.m. and are open to the public.
The Redevelopment Commission has granted $17,000 for a water study, leaving the city of Brazil to make up the additional $5,000.