Sidney Council receives I&I update, options

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — An update on the city’s inflow and infiltration (I&I) program and options for the future income tax levy were discussed Monday during Sidney’s City Council’s workshop session.

Utilities Director Bill Blakely presented City Council with the annual update on the I&I program, which is in its fourth year. The I&I program, Blakely said, works to reduce clear water intrusion into the sanitary sewer system, which in-turn reduces treatment for the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Community properties were split into sections, and each year since the program’s inception in 2014, the city requires selected property owners to conduct property laterals inspections. Laterals are underground pipes that carry water to the sanitary sewer main and their and connectors throughout the city.

A total of 399 properties were included in Section 1 in the first year of the program. The city targets approximately 400 to 500 properties each year.

All of homes in Section 1 from the first year have been inspected and 97 percent of laterals are compliant. There still are 12 properties not in compliance; repairs were due in April 2017.

Blakely’s report showed 94 percent of properties have been inspected within the 2015 Section 2; repairs were due in April 2018. Properties in the 2016 Section 3 inspections showed 90 percent of homes have been inspected and have until April 30, 2019, to complete repairs. Properties in the 2017 Section 4 showed 71 percent of homes have been inspected and have until April 30, 2020, to complete repairs.

Homeowners have several programs available to help financially with inspections and repairs costs such as with I & I Low Income Assistance Loans and the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. The city will also continue its lateral transfer program, for homeowners who wish to participate. Blakely said Sidney will assume the lateral from the right of way to the sewer main only if the property owner installs an inspection chamber.

The city is making slow progress on lateral repairs, Blakely said. Only areas one and two have met deadlines. He said from flow data in the field and at the wastewater treatment plant, they estimate I&I has only been reduced by 7 to 9 percent.

In other business, City Manager Mark Cundiff led a discussion to continue revenue after the 0.25 percent income tax street repairs levy expires at the end of 2019. He noted that without this revenue, the city will not be able to maintain the current level of street maintenance or be able to staff and equip the third fire station.

Discussion ensued about whether to put forth two separate levies on the ballot or combine funding needs into one, what the amount for each should be and if they both should be permanent income tax levies.

After some discussion, council members questioned if they should wait for some direction following an upcoming meeting Fire Chief Brad Jones has scheduled with Manns Woodward Studios, one of the architecture firms working on the design plans for fire station three. Jones confirmed he has a meeting set for later this month, but clarified they would discussing a marketing plan. He noted that Manns Woodward are architects and would not be conducting the footwork involved with polling the community, but could possibly direct the city to a company that specializes in passing tax levies.

Although the consensus among council members was make the levy/levies permanent and set the amount at 0.15 for each need (or a total of 0.30), they decided to wait to get direction from an expert before any final decisions were made.

A meeting was announced for Thursday afternoon for Ruth Street residents concerning storm drain issues that came up during construction on the road. The meeting will be held on Thursday, Aug. 9, at 4:30 p.m in the Municipal Building’s Council Chambers.

Cundiff shared that bids the city received for the Court Street sanitary sewer project were all above the city engineer’s estimate. City staff is re-evaluating the project. He also said more issues were found with other features of the Sidney Waterpark; the pool closes this weekend.

Council also reviewed the upcoming Zoning Board/Planning Commission Agenda for Monday, Aug. 20, 2018, and the prospective City Council Agenda items for the next 30 days.

In final business, council held an executive session to consider the purchase of land and the employment of a public employee. No action was taken after council emerged from the session.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.