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Is there waste in that waste water project? One reader weighs in on TCRSD.

Submitted by Fred Barcon

Why is Tri-City Sanitary District and USDA pushing forward despite opposition from taxpayers?

The TCRSD board is supposed to represent the taxpayers of their district. So why are they hell-bent on moving forward with a project that numerous Tri-City residents are against?

The most recent series of meetings that TCRSD and USDA churned out were, once again, full of misinformation, half-truths, and outright lies.

TCRSD and USDA claim they have spoken to Town of Miami and City of Globe and neither have the capacity or are willing to work with them. This is completely false. TCRSD has not discussed this project with Globe or Miami in several years. Tri-City refuses to discuss this project with Globe and Miami because they know that the most logical, cost-effective solution is to partner with Globe and Miami, and they refuse to do that.   

I spoke to Town of Miami manager, Joe Heatherly, a few days ago, he confirmed that TCRSD has not reached out to Miami to discuss the project in years. He also confirmed that Town of Miami has the capacity to service Tri-City, has the lift station, and infrastructure already in place. If any modifications are needed, they would be minimal and far less expensive than building a brand-new system.   

The colorful flier that TCRSD created does not show that Town of Miami already has the infrastructure in the ground along Highway 60 all the way up to Walmart, then south down to the hospital. TCRSD is proposing to duplicate miles of infrastructure, and their map confirms that fact.

The reason TCRSD and USDA claim they’re not running duplicate infrastructure lines, even though the lines are in the same location, is that Town of Miami’s infrastructure lines flows with gravity and TCRSD will be pumping uphill against gravity flow. That’s an ongoing and unnecessary electricity expense to pump uphill.   

Town of Miami already has a lift station that can service the TCRSD, it’s located near Walmart. And yet TCRSD wants taxpayers to build another lift station near Walmart in a floodway which is going to cost millions of dollars, yet TCRSD has only budgeted one-half million for that lift station. Why did they underestimate the cost? If you knew the actual cost of the lift station is closer to $3-million or above, would you be supportive of this project?   

TCRSD has budgeted $4.5-million to build a wastewater treatment plant, with $2-million of that going straight to the engineer for engineering services. That leaves $2.5-million to build the plant. That’s impossible! Town of Miami and numerous other wastewater treatment plants of similar size cost over $10-million to make—which doesn’t include engineering fees. TCRSD knows they cannot build the plant for $2.5-million, they’re planning to up the costs as soon as they get the project passed.

The TCRSD flier states the total project costs to be near $70-million. Keep in mind the have numerous low-ball estimates included in that $70-million project budget. Once they begin the project, costs will escalate by millions of dollars. This project simply does not have to cost that much. 

If TCRSD partnered with Globe and Miami, the entire three-phase project would be closer to $30-million, which is what TCRSD is proposing to spend on Phase I.

The TCRSD flier also confirms that Tri-City residents will have a 43% loan to repay. If TCRSD partnered with the municipalities–Globe and Miami– it would drop to a 20% loan. Why pay 23% more than you have to?

USDA admits that they cannot guarantee if and when Phases II and III will be funded, nor can they guarantee the loan repayment rate. USDA has stated numerous times that Phases II and III could be up to 100% loan. USDA must wait for Congress to pass budgets each year before USDA knows how much money they have to spend. Tri-City residents may end up repaying the lion’s share of that $70-million project.

USDA has been stating “Don’t worry about it, grants will cover the costs.” Guess what, that’s what they told Town of Miami residents. USDA issued a letter (that I have a copy of) guaranteeing Town of Miami residents that their monthly sewer rates would not exceed $45.00 per month. Do you know anyone in Miami paying $45.00 per month? Did USDA kick in free money as they promised? Or are Miami residents having to pay close to $100 per month?

If you think this project stinks worse than the sewer issues, you’re right, it does. While taxpayers struggle with the financial burden of an outrageously expensive project, guess what TCRSD board is keeping hush-hush?

The effluent- the water by-product of the wastewater treatment plant is akin to liquid gold. The mines will pay top dollar for that effluent water. Has TCRSD asked the taxpayers (who will be paying for this expensive project) if they would like to sell the effluent to offset the project costs or annual plant maintenance and operations costs? Has TCRSD once mentioned that there’s money to be made from selling the effluent? Or has the TCRSD board been suspiciously quiet about the hundreds of thousands of dollars in profit from selling the effluent to the mines?

While TCRSD, USDA, and others have been quick to say “take the money while it’s available to fix the sewer issues, and don’t question the method selected to fix the issues,” once again let me clarify that everyone in this community agrees that Tri-City has sewer issues. Everyone agrees that they need to be fixed.

When TCRSD, USDA and others try to insist that the costly project they’re proposing is the ONLY way to fix the problem, they are very wrong! It’s not the best or most cost-effective solution, and they are WRONG for trying to force this project on taxpayers when there is a more cost-effective solution that has not been sufficiently explored.

Let’s be grateful that USDA has nearly $30-million earmarked for the Tri-City area. Let’s stop this foolishness and come up with a sensible, cost-effective plan to maximize that $30-million to stretch it as far as possible to fix as much of Tri-City as possible. That is what can and should be done. Anyone who feels federal or local taxpayers should pay tens of millions more than necessary either stupid or has ulterior motives! There is no other explanation for this level of corruption.   

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