By: Fred Barcon
I am shocked to watch a project as heavily flawed as the TRSD project move forward despite having numerous fatal flaws. Any one of the flaws should have caused USDA to halt the project, and yet it moves forward full speed.
USDA has pumped fear to Tri City property owners with their threat that residents either accept the project, or lose all USDA’s funding and assistance.
This is not true.
USDA’s fiscal year end is September 30, 2019, which leaves plenty of time to revise the plan to a more cost-effective system and still meet funding deadlines. USDA, for some unknown reason, is running down the clock by publicly stating funds will go away immediately if not used for the proposed plan.
The Fiscal Responsibility Act states USDA employees must explore and implement the most cost-effective solution. Federal employees are not at liberty to misuse and overspend federal taxpayer’s money. USDA has known for over three years of a more cost-effective solution to solve the Tri City wastewater issues. This is a serious infraction and misuse of authority that USDA’s State Director, J.C. Sherman, and Congressman O’Halloran must investigate.
Jeff Hays states in his project review posted on the TRSD website that USDA merely reviewed the Preliminary Engineering Report (PER)submitted by PACE engineering assuming it to be accurate. However in this case, the PER, which is basically the blueprints of the project which include the facts and data to justify the proposed project, spills over with fatal flaws and outrageous errors.
The USDA must do their due diligence and value engineer the project to verify that the PER is accurate.
USDA is currently removing the Miami Gardens area (shouldn’t have been included in the first place) and also removing the Vertical Heights area (again, never should have been included). Town of Miami and City of Globe are insisting TRSD remove areas currently serviced by the City and Town. Removal of these areas will cause a population decline in the TRSD area thus reducing the Median Household Income level.
What does that mean to residents? It means the loan must be repaid by fewer people. The “low” tax rates and “low” monthly service fees USDA and TRSD were trying to pitch as an affordable amount are inaccurate. The annual and monthly rates are going to be much higher because there are fewer residents paying the debt and fewer residents utilizing the service.
PACE engineering and the TRSD board knew that the only way they could get funding for a third wastewater treatment plant was to include areas outside TRSD’s boundary line. Once the funding is secured it will be too late. They will revise the DMA to reflect accurate boundaries and taxes and service rates will skyrocket on the few remaining TRSD residents.
The statement that USDA and PACE engineering often make that Phase I of the project doesn’t affect Town of Miami or City of Globe; therefore, negotiations with Globe and Miami will take place after Phase I is built. Think about that… Phase I borders Town of Miami. Phase I is the only phase that Town of Miami would be concerned about.
Phase I includes the ridiculously expensive treatment plant, miles of duplicate infrastructure, 6- miles of force-fed lines, and 8 lift stations. Negotiations with Town of Miami and City of Globe must take place now if there is hope of a cost-effective alternative.
I urge all residents to call Congressman O’Halloran and USDA State Director, J.C. Sherman and insist that USDA Project Manager, Jeff Hays, and his team abide by the Fiscal Responsibility Act and explore all cost-effective solutions. Jeff Hays’ refusal to tell the truth and do what is in the best interest of the TRSD taxpayers is unacceptable.
324 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
USDA State Director, J.C. Sherman
230 N. First Avenue, Suite 206
Phoenix, AZ 85003-1706