For the past two years, I’ve been requesting a copy of the Tri-City Regional Sanitary District’s (TCRSD) Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) which is the detailed engineering report TCRSD submitted to USDA for approval. TCRSD and USDA have withheld this document for two years, which is illegal as the report was paid for with taxpayer funds and taxpayers have a right to know about the project as they are ultimately responsible to repay the loan.
While I have been publishing editorials pointing out the multiple issues with the project, TCRSD and USDA have been claiming the information I have been sharing is wrong or misinformed. Two weeks ago, TCRSD’s engineer, Mike Krebs, finally provided a copy of the PER and chance to chat with him about the discrepancies. Upon reviewing the PER, it was immediately obvious why TCRSD and USDA did not want the details of this report made known, as it confirms what I have suspected all along.
The PER is filled with false information, underestimated costs and inaccuracies that USDA, and the engineer, know are false and misleading. It is incomprehensible that USDA, the TCRSD board, and Central Arizona Governments (CAG) are forcing this project on taxpayers.
For instance, the PER states that the wastewater treatment plant will cost $4.5-million, of that budget $2-million is strictly engineering fees. That leaves a $2.5-million-dollar construction budget. It’s impossible to build a treatment plant for $2.5-million! The proposed treatment plant will release effluent directly into the creek requiring the plant be built to Class A standards, costing between $15-million to $20-million.
When I pointed this fact out to Mike Krebs, TCRSD’s engineer, he said the PER was preliminary and costs would be adjusted as the project moves along with the bidding system. How can a preliminary $2.5-million construction budget be approved when in reality they know the budget will increase by $15-million to $20-million?
Another flaw with the PER is the lift station. According to the PER the lift station is a simple submergible pump that will cost around $500,000 to construct. The PER downplays the fact that the lift station is located in a floodway and no allowance for building in a floodway is reflected in the budget. ADEQ will require the lift station meet the requirements for building in a floodway. The requirements include building up the pad 20 feet, reinforced concrete walls, generators and backup generators, etc. This will add several million to the budget to meet the 100 year and 500-year flood requirements.
USDA told Congressman O’Halleran the total budget for all three phases of the project would be between $80-million to $90-million, keep in mind that budget includes a $4.5-million treatment plant with a mere $2.5-million construction budget and a hefty $2-million engineering budget and a $500,000 lift station. USDA and TCRSD know the budget will escalate by tens of millions as soon as construction begins, the total project costs could quickly exceed $100-million.
Another serious issue I pointed out is that municipalities are eligible for up to 80% grant and 20% loan ratio, which is evidenced by the Town of Miami’s project which has an 80% grant 20% loan ratio. A sanitary district is limited to 50% grant 50% loan which is evidenced by the financing USDA has offered TCRSD. If TCRSD would partner with Globe and Miami not only would the construction budget be greatly reduced due to the fact that most infrastructure and equipment is already in place, but the grant to loan ration would be 80% grant 20% loan instead of 50% grant 50% loan. Why would anyone want to pay more than they have to?
The only way we can stop this overpriced project from moving forward is with our vote. By voting for candidates who truly represent the best interest of the taxpayers and have the mental capacity and common sense to understand the economic impact an overpriced wastewater system will have on the area.
Vote for Stephen Palmer and Bill Tower, two gentlemen who represent the Tri-City taxpayer’s best interest.
President, Barcon Corporation
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