Dickinson reviews cost of water treatment plantThe estimated cost for a wastewater treatment facility in Dickinson continues to escalate as the city grows and use increases. The project is now estimated at $34.3 million.
The estimated cost for a wastewater treatment facility in Dickinson continues to escalate as the city grows and use increases.
The project is now estimated at $34.3 million.
“At first the project was estimated at $10 million, then 20 and now $30,” City Commissioner Carson Steiner said.
Mayor Dennis Johnson said the performance statistics the city is seeing now are where they thought they would be years down the road when it first started looking at the project.
“The numbers surprise me,” said Karla Olson of Apex Engineering group, the company working on the wastewater treatment facility project with the city.
Karla said the city is seeing a progressive growth rate which has caused the group to amend the project.
“The flow and load strength is growing,” Olson said. “Existing use continues to increase.
She added the city is seeing new homes and more people everyday.
“The system is now stressed,” Olson said.
Olson said the discharge limits may be more stringent in the future as well.
“We are looking at three locations to build,” Olson said, adding there was no cost estimate for the first location but the other two were between $3 million and $4 million.
These location costs would be in addition to the cost of wastewater treatment facility project.
To defray costs, Apex Engineering group suggested user fees, special assessments, infrastructure sales tax, a sewer access charge and selling some of the reuse water.
Johnson said because the city is growing and the existing system is stressed, “time is of the essence.”
In other business, the city commission is considering eliminating the builders and buyers property tax exemption.
The builders’ exemption allows home builders a property tax exemption up to the first $100,000 for five homes and the buyers’ exemption allows home buyers a property tax exemption up to the first $100,000 for two years, City Administrator Shawn Kessel said.
Joe Hirschfeld with the office of the city assessor said the 34 homeowner exemptions from 2010, in conjunction with the 100 homeowner exemptions 2011 will result in a net loss of total tax dollars in excess of $205,000.
“Based upon an equal growth rate over the next three years, additional tax dollars of approximately $500,000 per year, cumulative total of $1 million, will be lost,” Hirschfeld said.
He added the department has noticed the builder exemption is not working effectively.
“Most builder exemptions put in place are being removed quickly due to property sales,” Hirschfeld said. “This results in the exemption being prorated during that first year, adding confusion to the home buyer the first year, before the homeowner exemption takes effect during years two and three,” Hirschfeld said. “Further complicating the process is the change in value notifications required for value increases, giving the perception that home values are yo-yoing, which they are not.”
He added both Dickinson’s sister oil hub cities of Williston and Minot suspended or cancelled their builders and homeowners exemptions.
The commission felt this agenda item needs review.
Johnson said he wishes for public input on the matter from citizens, realtors, builders and all others.
City Commissioner Klayton Oltmanns said the exemption idea was good at the time it was created, but much has changed since the exemption was put in practice.