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Public hearing held on water project

By Staff, 11/21/17 9:18 AM


PRESCOTT – A public hearing was held prior to the November meeting of the Prescott City Council Monday night.

The hearing dealt with the proposed water project to replace the current 16-inch main from the Little Missouri River to the water treatment plant and Firestone. Kiron Browning, with A.L. Franks Engineering of Texarkana informed the public of what the plan contains.

He said replacing the main should increase savings to the water department as it should reduce water wasted from the pipe. The project will cost $3 million, with $300,000 to be forgiven, leaving the city to pay $2.7 million. The funding is coming from the Arkansas Natural Resource Commission’s (ARNC) revolving loan program, and it to be paid back over a 30-year period.

To make the payments, water rates will be increased to all customers, both city and rural. Perry Nelson, superintendent of the Prescott Water and Sewer Department, said, the ANRC calculated what it would take to pay the loan off. The end result was it water bills will be going up a minimum of $2 per month per meter, while water usage rates will be increased from $1.75 per 1,000 gallons over the minimum to $2 per 1,000 gallons.

Those present were told the city must have 1 percent of the loan amount in a depreciation fund that cannot be used. During the regular council meeting, he said the increase in billing will start immediately and work on the project won’t begin until either next fall or winter. This means customers of Prescott Water and Light will be paying for the project before anything is done, so as to build up the depreciation fund.

Overall, Nelson said, the average water bill will go up $2.88, though it will be more for those who have more than one meter. He was asked about the city’s ability to do other projects while this loan is being paid off. He told those present loans can be obtained elsewhere as other areas are also in need of repair. Many projects, he added, are done in house.

The ANRC, Browning said, is willing to loan money to communities willing to raise their rates to pay the loan off. He pointed out Prescott’s water rates, even with the increase, are still below those of the rest of the state.

The new line will be a combination of PVC pipe and ductile iron, with the iron used in areas where extra strength is required.

Questions were raised about a project to be funded by the city’s bonds being refinanced for water and sewer improvements. Nelson said that project fell through due to the bond people. The work, he added, still needs to be done and will be addressed in the future.

“We can only do so much in-house at one time,” he said. “This is a constant process.”

Nelson pointed out the water main project from the river to the treatment plant is a major one and will change out the source of the city’s water supply line. The current line was initially installed in 1964 for what became the Firestone plant, with the city being added in 1985.

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