- Paris Flash
- Real Estate
By CHARLES RICHARDS
In his budget message last week to the Paris City Council, city manager John Godwin talked about what’s in the proposal.
He also talked to them about — just as important — what’s NOT in the proposal.
“There’s nothing budgeted for the sewer plant in this budget. That’s a huge thing that’s out there on the horizon — a $30 million or more project, whether it‘s in a year or two years or whatever,” Godwin said.
Utilities director Doug Harris has told the city manager, “You know, I can run the sewer plant for as many years as you need me to, without replacing it. The problem is that of reliability, really high operating costs, really high maintenance costs.”
It is like owning an old car, the city manager said.
“You know, you can make your old 1972 Oldsmobile run forever theoretically. But at some point you should probably get a new car because you’re wasting an awful lot of money on maintenance and repairs,” he said.
“At some point, we’re going to need to replace that sewer plant. And that is going to be a big deal.”
One other big problem that he was unable to adequately address in this budget, Godwin said, is the need for more equipment at Pat Mayse Lake.
“You’ve got anywhere from $3 million to $8 million worth of replacements and improvement of equipment out there that we need to invest in, to make sure we are able to pump all the water that we need to pump,” Godwin said.
District 3 councilman John Wright asked, “Is that included in this year’s budget?“
“Only a little bitty bit. Only $50,000. So that’s another big thing we’re going to have to talk about,” the city manager said.
With all the city’s priority this year to address the infrastructure, cleanup, demolition of old houses, there hasn’t been much to throw at other important issues, without raising taxes.
“If we get any (industrial prospect) that consumes a lot of water, that’s going to be a problem,” Wright said.
“It’s going to be a huge problem. And that’s got to be addressed. It’s got to be something , just like the sewer plant,” the city manager said.
The city is allowed to pump up to 55 million gallons a day out of Pat Mayse Lake for consumption and for needs of business. But there is a capability to pump only about half that much a day.
The city gets its water from Pat Mayse Lake, which is also the source of water to businesses such as Campbell Soup, Lamar County Water Corportation, the city’s two power plants, and Kimberly Clark, as well as the new Daisy Dairy south of town.
“This year, we, as a group have got to develop a plan and then work that plan. How soon are we going to start? Do we want to hire an engineer right away to start the engineering process and get that done, and how do we fund it,” Godwin asked the council.
“Just like the rest of the CIP (capital improvement program), that is going to be a huge part of your multi-year plan. And that‘s a huge priority, a very important priority, and there’s not immediately the funding available to do that.
“So we’ve got to find a funding source and develop a specific plan to address that. Pat Mayse and the sewer plant are huge things hanging out there for you.”
The city manager said he‘s read the studies that Hayter Engineering did recently.
“So we‘ve got ideas of what we need to do. At some point we‘re going to need to develop a specific plan. You know, specific construction plans, specific design plans, to bid those out and actually have the improvement.”
And then there is the infrastructure, which the city is addressing in a big way this year after years of virtually ignoring the problem.
Godwin has recommended over $2 million for improvements to water and sewer lines, street repairs, and curbs and sidewalks, plus correction of drainage problems.
But it’s just a start.
When you are repairing water lines and sewer lines instead of replacing them — as the city has been doing for years — you’re not really doing anything to solve the problem, he noted.
Employees constantly are having to be pulled off their current projects to repair a road that had to be torn up to get to leaking water or sewer lines.
A city planner will help, Godwin said, and so will the citizens advisory committee the city council has just created.
The city manager recommended that committee not only prioritize the various infrastructure projects, but also undertake a long-term capital improvement plan for the city.
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