By Jenny Allen
The Board of Public Works (BPW) heard a MoDOT update at its regular monthly meeting, held Tuesday, April 7, as an online meeting due to the COVID-19 stay-at-home mandate.
Water Superintendent Tony Lerda said the MoDOT project is going well. The crews had planned to move on to downtown, but are now waiting on fiber to be installed first. The highway contractor is planning to start at the west end of downtown this week.
The new electrical grid downtown will start being installed soon. Evergy volunteered to buy the materials if O&M Enterprises buries the lines. Lerda was set to meet with representatives on April 8.
The City of Holden confirmed they will have the money to pay for burying the lines. “We will be working with MoDOT most of the summer again,” commented Lerda.
In a sewer system update, Lerda said the bid to replace the blower on the lagoon has been approved. The lowest bid was $8,084. The order for the new blower was placed Thursday, April 2. It will take five or six weeks for it to arrive.
I&I (inflow and infiltration) is s seasonal issue and O&M will continue to handle issues as they arise.
In water system news, Lerda said, “The winter has been good and there have not been a lot of breaks in the lines.”
Lerda said that O&M moved the fire hydrant at 2nd and Vine St. by Heiman’s Farm & Home. They will be moving the hydrants at 2nd and Main St. by Blue Bird Real Estate and at the west end of town.
O&M will also be replacing service lines from Blue Bird east and will install six new service lines.
In new business, the board discussed the impact of COVID-19. Lerda said the water department office is closed to the public and crews are running very narrow paths.
The water department manager is traveling from the water department to home and back. O&M will be installing wifi in the office in case he needs to stay in the office.
This meeting was BPW’s first attempt at a Zoom online meeting. There were a few glitches, and Lerda said he will work on polishing it up in case they need another Zoom meeting in the future.
Currently, there are 41 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Johnson County, Missouri. Two-thirds of those are at Whiteman Air Force Base in Knob Noster. Lerda added, “We are doing everything we can to protect ourselves.”
Also in new business, Lerda presented a spreadsheet from April 2019 through March 2020 so the board can start thinking about a potential budget for 2020-2021.
The spreadsheet showed a net of $42,000 for the timeframe. The board discussed the possibility of extending their current debt services for 10 years in order to maintain the current $18 per month per household rate, rather than raising rates to help cover three percent inflation and rising costs.
Piper Sandler handled the financing before, so they will look at using Piper Sandler again. Lerda said, “Whatever we can save now would go back into infrastructure and update it.”
The board discussed the updates the current system will need. There are three or four sewer mains that need to be replaced. There are some water mains that need to be replaced and moved out from under highways.
The SAGR system is currently covered with bark that needs to be replaced with rubber chips instead.
The SCEAP Grant (currently idle) is paying 80 percent of the cost of the engineer, but Holden has two years from the completion of the study to build any recommended systems or the city will have to pay back the grant.
Lerda explained that Holden currently has a 10-year debt service, while most small communities finance things for 30 years.
If the board agrees to refinance the debt out to 2030, they can cut $6,000 off. If they extend it out to 2035, they can cut it in half. After a unanimous roll call vote, the board voted to move forward with the financial study.
The BPW will send the contract to the City Council for approval and for Mayor Doyle Weeks to sign.
O&M will finish reading the new water meters April 8. They will have four months’ worth of readings on 40 new meters to be able to compare to January through April 2019.
Lerda is hoping the difference in water bills for the new meters may save enough money to eventually afford remote read meters. The comparison will at least give a baseline starting point.
The April online meeting of the BPW closed, to reopen in May.