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Lyons Sanitary District budget sees a quiet year

Loan payments for new plant begin next year

November 30, 2011 | 08:04 AM
LYONS TOWNSHIP — Call it the lull after a particularly busy year.

After hitting stratospheric heights in 2011, the Lyons Sanitary District's 2012 budget is settling back to earth.

Meanwhile, sanitary district fees, based on a residential unit equivalent, will remain $255 per quarter, where it was last year, said James DeLuca, chairman of the Lyons Sanitary District commission.

Because the district doesn't have municipal water, which can be metered, sewer use must be estimated, DeLuca said.

The district commissioners in October approved a 2012 budget of $535,542, which equals the district's expected revenues.

For 2012, the district is expecting revenues of $404,670 from sewer service charges, and $129,072 in processing charges from Country Estates, which has its own sanitary district, but is connected to the Lyons treatment plant.

Expenditures for 2012 are listed as:

- Wages and benefits — $113,399.

- Operational expenses — $111,000.

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- Professional fees — $66,700.

- Wastewater upgrade Loan interest payment — $169,828.

- Insurance — $32,000.

- Capital replacement — $30,700

- Debt service sinking fund — $1,915.

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- Collection system — $10,000.

Compared to last year, that's a drop in the bucket.

Total expenditures from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31, 2010 totaled $1.6 million, and expenditures for Jan. 1 to Aug. 31, 2011 were $1.9 million.

But it's not fair to make that comparison, because from Sept. 1, 2010 to Aug. 31, the district was building a new wastewater treatment plant, DeLuca said.

Most of the income for that new plant was through a 20-year $2.7 million loan at 2.2 percent interest through the state Department of Natural Resources Clean Water Fund.

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For the period Sept. 1, 2010 through Aug. 31, 2011, the sanitary district shows a debt of $3,525,052.

Now, with the plant completed, the drive paved and the sod settling, the final papers will be signed as the project is closed off, DeLuca said.

What the district residents will get for their money is "substantially cleaner" water, said DeLuca.

This year will be a respite from loan payments.

DeLuca said the district has cut its operating budget, reducing full-time employees from two to one, with three part-time employees on call.

But DeLuca said he expects those loan payments will kick in during the 2013 budget.

And that means the $255 per quarter sewer charges will have to be bumped up again, he said.

When the project started it was expected that sewer rates would reach $280 a quarter.

Now, the increases are expected to be less, topping off somewhere in the $260 to $270 range.

"In 2012, we'll get more information on that," DeLuca said.

The Lyons Sanitary District officially broke ground for the new treatment plant on July 1, 2010.

Construction took about one year.

It was officially put into service in September.

The new facility includes a processing building, an administration building, an operations building and a storage facility.

Outdoors is the aeration tank, where wastewater is mixed with bacteria, which consumes pollutants and purifies the water, and a final clarifier, that allows the few impurities left in the water to settle out before the water flows to an ultraviolet disinfection tank before being released to the nearby White River.

According to information from Applied Technologies, the sanitary district's engineers, planning for the new facility began in 1995.

That 1995 plan was amended in 2006.

The amended plan found the old treatment plant, which was built in 1980, had reached the end of its service life and was exceeding its capacity.

Country Estates, which is connected to the Lyons District treatment plant, secured a $1.45 million Wisconsin Rural Water Construction loan through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

It also received a $3.1 million grant for updating sewer pipes and manholes.

The Lyons Sanitary District is also trying to secure a grant through the Community Development Block Grant program.

The loan could help pay off the DNR loan and take some pressure off the quarterly sewer rates.

However, the district will have to survey the residents living within the district to determine average income.

If average income of sanitary district residents falls within the low to moderate range, the district would be able to apply for a grant.

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