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A Vandalia City Council committee has decided that when the city receives $450,000 in grant funds, they should go toward replacing an aging sewer lift station and Vandalia Lake projects
The city announced at the beginning of the month that state Rep. Blaine Wilhour (R-Beecher City) was able to procure those grant funds, which are to be used only for bondable general infrastructure projects.
The city council’s water and sewer committee met last Monday to set priorities, and it agreed to direct the funds first to the replacement of a sewer lift station on West Main Street.
Committee members also agreed that second on the priority list was the lake.
Mike Anderson, superintendent of the city’s sewage treatment plant, told committee members that the Main Street lift station was installed close to 40 years ago, “long before three other lift stations were fed into it.”
Having those other lift stations feeding into one that’s that old would be a major problem if that lift station goes down, committee Chairman Bret Brosman said.
He also acknowledged that the designs of lift stations have “changed dramatically,” also noting safety issues related to working on that one.
Public Works Director Marlin Filer said he agrees with Anderson that the lift station needs to be replaced, not only because of its age, but also because of the dangers in working on it.
“Both of us have to go out there and work on it – it’s dangerous,” Filer said. “Guys are down in a 20-foot deep, or at least 20 feet, in a confined space.
“It’s outdated, and it needs replaced,” Filer said.
Anderson and Filer also pointed out that the pumps at the lift station are so old that the city will be unable to get replacements.
The age and condition of the current lift station are only reason for putting in a replacement, Filer said.
He told the committee that not only do three other lift stations feed into it, the city is promoting that area for business and industrial growth.
Asked whether the city would be able to use any Tax Increment Financing funds, City Administrator LaTisha Paslay said it’s her understanding that it would use a prorated amount, and that she would verify how much could be used.
Lee Beckman of Milano and Grunloh Engineers told the committee that the estimated cost of a lift station is $300,000.
One factor in how much it would cost “depends on the type of soil that’s encountered. It could be a $50,000-$75,000 line item,” Beckman said.
Other possible targets for grant funds that were brought up during last week’s meeting included an overlay on Randolph Street.
“Maybe not the whole thing, but we could get a start,” Filer said, adding that Motor Fuel Tax funds could be contributed to such a project.
Also brought up was replacement of the bridge on Sixth Street at Madison Street.
“That road has a lot of traffic,” Alderman Steve Barker said.
Then, discussion turned to Vandalia Lake.
Committee members heard that possible projects include the lake intake and a new generator.
Andy Gelsinger also told committee members that the spillway “is eroding away. It’s not going to get any better.
“Everything just needs rejuvenated out there,” he said, also mentioning an electrical upgrade to three phase.
Alderman Russ Stunkel, who is chairman of the city’s lake committee, agreed with Gelsinger.
“There is no shortage of projects” at the lake,” Stunkel said.
Also during the meeting, the possibility of increasing rates for sewage dumping was discussed.
Brosman said, “I’m under the impression we’re definitely below market rates for this part of Illinois” for the dumping of sewer trucks.
Anderson said the city’s rate is $10 a load, and that he has checked with other communities to find out their rates.
“The cheapest I found was four cents a gallon. For a 1,000-gallon truck, that’s $40.
“A lot of places don’t allow it; we’re one of the few around. I don’t think there is anyone between here and Gillespie,” Anderson said, noting that he had recently been contacted by someone from Gillespie.
Brosman said that the committee would wait to get “some hard facts” about rates in communities within a 50-mile radius before it would make a recommendation to the council on a rate increase.
In addition to being below market rate, Anderson said, one reason for increasing the rate is that very few people who dump sewage pay city taxes.
Brosman said, “A jump from $10 a load to $40 a load does seem drastic.
“Four times an increase? Is it something we want to phase in over time?” he said.
While Anderson gathers more data, Brosman said, “People (on the committee) can do some soul searching on whether or not we make a one-time leap to market rates or we phase it in.”