Belfield City Council held its monthly meeting on Tuesday, December 14, discussing many issues including sewage, water, a fire engine and liquor licenses.
President Lonni Fleck and Robert Procive of Interstate Engineering Inc. addressed the council regarding the deteriorating Belfield sewage system. Fleck suggested increasing sewer rates from $ 25 to $ 33 in order to fund the repairs.
The second time Fleck mentioned his proposal to increase tariffs to fund improvements, Councilor Ed Braun intervened, voicing his opposition to imposing more money on residents.
“Bullsh * t… There is money in the budget,” Braun said. “The answer is not simply to increase everyone’s prices. There are grants and stuff that someone has to look at. I mean, I know I’m very bold and it’s not (directed) at you.
Councilor Bruce Baer suggested the funding could come from a combination of general funds and rate hikes, Braun agreed. Baer noted that the city had saved about $ 630,000.
Procive said that one of the reasons they suggested increasing rates is that in order to be eligible for government grants to support these types of projects, cities must charge sufficiently high rates.
Belfield has three sewage lifting stations, all of which require varying degrees of maintenance and repair. Here’s how it works: The toilet flushes or the water flows down a drain to a small pipe outside the house. This connects to a larger sewer line that usually goes under the city street. The sewer line is sloped with a slight downward slope, allowing gravity to carry the sewage until it reaches a maximum low point.
It flows into an underground enclosure called a wet well, with sensors that track water levels to keep them below a certain depth. Submersible pumps pump the wastewater to a discharge line that carries it to the nearest wastewater treatment plant, where it is cleaned and discharged into a local waterway.
Interstate Engineering has estimated that the east side lift station project will cost $ 1,000,436 to complete, and $ 886,000 to repair the west side station. Council members acknowledged that tackling this project from the east side is a high priority as it is in the worst condition and if it fails unexpectedly it could result in the backflow of raw sewage into basements. and the homes of many residents. The third lifting station would only need minor repairs.
“The last time (the elevator on the east side) had any work done was in the early ’90s, and it was a band-aid back then. It may really have been deleted, ”Procive said, noting that the east and west lifting stations were built over 60 years ago.
Procive warned that the price could end up being higher than this estimate due to economic volatility. Since this is a matter of public funding, the city will be required to open the project up for auction before choosing a contractor.
“We were looking at a box culvert this week, and there are rumors that steel prices will double. So the construction industry is currently a bit on the raw materials side, ”Procive said.
In other city news, Belfield Volunteer Fire Chief Kevin Hushka spoke at the meeting, arguing for a new fire truck, with estimates ranging between $ 280,000 and $ 290,000. Hushka said they were using a Minnesota-based government cooperative purchasing service called Sourcewell, which he said could save them $ 50,000. Currently, the Belfield Volunteer Fire Department has $ 190,000 in the Truck Fund.
“We don’t have to put any money on the truck until they bring the chassis to the factory, which can take 12 to 18 months. This truck might not be ready for 30 months, but we have to sign a purchase contract to lock in those prices, ”Hushka said.
He added that the community has been generous in supporting the fire department.
“The (American) Legion has been extremely generous. They gave us a check for $ 40,000, plus $ 5,000 here and there. Endeavor also gave us $ 40,000. Mud Run has been pretty good for us, ”he said.
The council approved a motion authorizing Hushka to sign the purchase contract after research and review by city attorney Sandra Kuntz.
City maintenance manager Kevin Anderson raised the issue of the appearance of cooking grease in the east sewer lift station and suggested that inspections might be needed. Mayor Marriann Mross asked if he thought the grease was being deliberately dumped into the sewers.
“No, I’m not saying they’re pouring it in there, but it’s possible the grease traps are overflowing or not being properly maintained,” Anderson said.
The old town store building needs a new roof if the town is to keep it, he said, adding that it does not prevent water from entering and black mold is growing. propagates. He said the rest of the structure could use some work, but is generally in decent condition.
City auditor Connie O’Brien said she had received calls from some residents complaining of cloudy and smelly water coming from their faucets. Baer asked him to record the date and place of these complaints, so that any water problem could be more easily identified.
O’Brien also said he received complaints about the train horn causing disruption to residents. Getting the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway to cut the horn is a tedious process, but it can be done, Baer said, citing South Heart and Medora as examples. The council raised the possibility of installing a crosswalk to ensure the safety of children and other residents on the tracks.
Liquor licenses have been approved for The Rendezvous, American Legion, Rusty Rail, Burly’s Roughrider Bar and Superpumper. The city has increased residential water rates by 11 cents per 1,000 gallons. The Dickinson Press has an outstanding request across town to verify the increase from the previous rate.