LJWorld.com weblogs Town Talk

Sewer plant, rental registration expansion face questions


Oh, how quickly times change. It wasn't long ago that Lawrence leaders were [wondering whether they were going to have to buy Porta Potties by the gross][1] to meet the sewage treatment needs of our growing community. Some people in 2006 were convinced that if we didn't have a new sewage treatment plant up and running by the end of 2010 that new building in the city would come to a halt. But now plans for an approximately $90 million sewage treatment plant on the Wakarusa River appear to be on hold for at least a year. In City Manager David Corliss' recommended budget, there are no capital improvement dollars proposed to be spent on the plant, [which would be located here.][2] The city already has purchased the approximately 500 acres needed for the project, and leaders say it is still a question of when - not if - the plant will be built. But no money in the budget means that there will not be bulldozers at the site anytime in 2009. It is questionable to ask whether there will be construction work there in the next three to five years. That's in part because the city is planning to spend about $4.5 million at the city's existing sewage treatment plant to expand its capacity. The new equipment will allow the plant to handle the sewage treatment needs of a population of 110,000 people. If the Census Bureau has the city's population growth right - which city leaders now seem to think it does - it could be the better part of two decades before the city nears 110,000 people. That's assuming the city continues to grow at 0.8 percent per year, which was the most recent rate calculated by the Census. If that rate becomes the new norm, a lot of city projects will be put on the back burner or kicked out of the kitchen all together. City leaders, though, believe Lawrence growth may bounce back to its more historical average of 2 percent per year. If that's the case, then the city will be at 110,000 people in about 10 years. Construction of a new sewage plant would start even sooner because it will take two to three years to build the plant, which has been dubbed the biggest single project Lawrence city government has every constructed. So, if you're fascinated with sewage, the city's population growth rate is one number to keep an eye on. Another is inflation. Even if construction costs inflate at a probably conservative rate of 5 percent per year, the cost of the project will grow by at least $4.5 million per year. Danged if you do. Danged if you don't. ¢¢¢People interested in the city expanding its [rental registration program][3] won a partial victory at Monday afternoon's city budget study session. Commissioners informally agreed to keep the necessary funding in the 2009 budget, but said they wanted to reserve the right to not start the program if some key questions aren't answered.Mayor Mike Dever said he wanted more explanation about why the registration program would be expanded only to inspect houses 50 years or older. City Commissioner Rob Chestnut said he had concerns that the proposed $40 inspection fee would not cover all the city's costs.In fact, a majority of commissioners expressed concerns. But every commissioner also expressed support for the concept of the city doing more to ensure that renters are living in adequate housing. [1]: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2006/feb... [2]: http://www2.ljworld.com/photos/2007/sep/15/131935/ [3]: http://www.lawrenceks.org/study_sessions/2008/07-14-08/07-14-08h/pds_res_insp.html


LogicMan 9 years, 5 months ago

"But now plans for an approximately $90 million sewage treatment plant on the Wakarusa River appear to be on hold for at least a year."That's unfortunate for the local construction industry and economy. Doing the underground and site work (running the new sewer lines, utilities, access road, fencing, storage buildings, etc.) would make sense so that when the plant is needed, it can be constructed much quicker.I hope the money being collected for the plant is being kept safely away (in a separate account) from those who would spend it on other things.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 5 months ago

Why expand the city limits now for any reason? with population growth stagnated and may stay that way? Constant expansion only increases the cost of living to the current residents. That sounds like fiscal irresponsibility.

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