Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando utilities chief recommends wastewater system upgrade

BROOKSVILLE — County commissioners will get their first look today at an ambitious plan to spend $150 million to improve the county's aging wastewater collection and treatment system.

To pay for the fixes, Hernando County's water and sewer customers would see rate increases phased in over the next five years.

The plan, proposed by utilities director Joe Stapf during an afternoon utilities workshop, will include a proposal to pay for the improvements using existing utility reserves and millions of dollars in loans, much of which has been made available by the federal economic stimulus program.

"The main reason we have to do this is to replace our aging infrastructure,'' Stapf explained, likening the existing system to an old car that needs either a major overhaul or replacement.

The plan calls for taking smaller, less efficient and troubled wastewater plants around the county offline and building larger plants, such as the one envisioned for the Hernando County Airport.

In the process of removing plants from the lineup, such as the Seville plant, and plans to close the troublesome plant in Spring Hill beside the Super Wal-Mart, the system will also have an increased capacity to provide water for reuse, an important conservation issue, Stapf said.

The conservation idea runs throughout Stapf's plan.

The proposal for water rate restructuring would give a break to residents who use less than 5,000 gallons a month of water. Those using 5,000 to 10,000 would see no change in their rate per 1,000 gallons.

As usage increases beyond that point, the rate would climb sharply.

For example, a user of 20,000-30,000 gallons pays $1.68 per 1,000 now. Under the proposal, that would increase to $2.24 in the first year.

But for a user of more than 75,000 gallons, the current rate of $3.36 would jump to $11.20 per 1,000 gallons in the first year.

Both the base sewer rate and the rate per 1,000 gallons of sewer use would increase under the proposal. In the first year, the base rate would rise to $12.50 from $12.33 and the per 1,000 gallon rate would rise to $2.90 from $2.66. The cap at 5,000 gallons of water use will remain the same.

The average water user in Hernando uses 8,000 gallons a month, but a frugal family of two can get by with 5,000 in usage, Stapf said.

Stapf said that, even in the fifth year of the rate changes, Hernando water and sewer costs will still be far below surrounding utility costs at least partly because he believes it has been more than 10 years since the last water and sewer rate hike in Hernando.

For commercial users, changes are also planned in the way the county handles connection fees and fees to tap into the main lines.

Stapf said the county is in a good position to get the low-interest loan money because utilities staff have been designing the list of wastewater treatment improvements for a while now and the multiphase program is at the "shovel ready'' phase that the stimulus monies were designed for.

Using any other system of loans, such as revenue bonds which carry a higher interest rate, could cost the county tens of millions in extra dollars to accomplish the same program, he said.

Because the issues will be discussed in a workshop today, no official commission action will be requested.

Instead, Stapf said he will ask commissioners to consider setting a special meeting to discuss the plan in detail, approve the loan agreement and consider setting a public hearing on the rate changes at their next meeting April 28.

In unrelated matters, Stapf said he will also ask the commission to adjust the county's rule requiring those with failed septic systems who are close enough to connect to the central sewer to hook in, as is required by state law. In reviewing utility materials, he found the county has not required that.

He also is working toward a system which would allow the county to collect more unpaid sewer bills by allowing the county to place property liens to collect.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.

Hernando utilities chief recommends wastewater system upgrade 04/13/09 [Last modified: Monday, April 13, 2009 8:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lightning edges Red Wings on road

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — The digs were different, the Lightning seeing the masterfully-done new Little Caesar's Arena for the first time.

    Lightning center/Red Wings’ killer Tyler Johnson gets past defenseman Trevor Daley on his way to the first goal of the game.
  2. Armwood pulls away to defeat Plant 27-7, remain undefeated

    Footballpreps

    SEFFNER — First-year Armwood coach Evan Davis pulled out all the stops to get his team psyched for Monday's annual grudge match against Plant.

    Armwood defensive end Malcolm Lamar (97) gets fired up before the start of the game between Plant High School Panthers and the Armwood High School Hawks in Suffer, Fla. on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017.
  3. Clearwater police: Car thief dead after owner fires gun

    Crime

    CLEARWATER — One man is dead after the owner of a car fired shots at the thieves who were stealing it Monday night, police said.

  4. Iraqi forces sweep into Kirkuk, checking Kurdish independence drive

    World

    KIRKUK, Iraq — After weeks of threats and posturing, the Iraqi government began a military assault Monday to curb the independence drive by the nation's Kurdish minority, wresting oil fields and a contested city from separatists pushing to break away from Iraq.

    Iraqi security forces patrol Monday in Tuz Khormato, about 45 miles south of Kirkuk, a disputed city that the government seized in response to last month’s Kurdish vote for independence.
  5. Trump and McConnell strive for unity amid rising tensions

    National

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, tried to convey a sense of harmony Monday after months of private feuding that threatened to undermine their party's legislative push in the coming weeks to enact a sweeping tax cut.

    President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell field questions Monday in the Rose Garden of the White House. “We have been friends for a long time,” Trump said.