DADE CITY — The initial discussions over the possibility of Dade City sending its sewage to the county's wastewater treatment plant have led to one thing:
The need for more information.
Earlier this week, city commissioners heard some cost estimates for the idea, which Pasco County Commissioner Ted Schrader suggested last month as a possible solution to Dade City's sewer issues. City commissioners asked staff for a more complete package, with all costs included, so they could decide how to proceed.
"Please run the figures of the total county offer," City Commissioner Bill Dennis said. "I know that sewer lines run on gravity and that pumps will be needed along with lines. Let's keep these negotiations open."
Dade City officials are at a crossroads with their aging wastewater treatment plant in the Mickens-Harper neighborhood. The plant needs considerable upgrades, but residents of the historically black neighborhood have been pressing the city to build a new plant elsewhere. City commissioners have agreed to move their plans for a reclaimed water tank to a city-owned site on Sumner Lake Road and indicated a willingness to someday move the entire sewer plant there.
Schrader suggested the city could connect to the county's Wesley Chapel plant instead, saving the expense of rehabilitation or construction costs on Dade City's own plant.
City engineer Gordon Onderdonk researched Pasco County's 2011 bulk wastewater rate, which he said is $4.64 per 1,000 gallons. He said the city's cost to treat the wastewater itself, with current flows, is about $1 less per 1,000 gallons — a 27 percent savings.
He also quoted a $6 million price tag to reroute Dade City's sewage lines to connect with the county system at Lake Jovita. The estimated cost of demolishing the Mickens-Harper plant would be an additional $400,000, he said.
"The main issue is that our plant is in serious need of rehab," said City Manager Billy Poe. "We recommend to the commission that we get the plant up to modernized standards and then go back to Pasco County."
City Commissioner Curtis Beebe reserved judgment, requesting a more specific breakdown of the numbers.
"I told them to ask if the county was prepared to make a connection effort more cost effective," Beebe said. He noted the city's grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is helping fund the reclaimed water tank project, requires officials "to make decisions based upon what is best for the rate payer."
There was no vote on the issue at Tuesday's City Commission meeting, as commissioners agreed to require their staff to provide a cost-effective proposal before making a decision. The consensus was to stick to plans for further talks with county officials.