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Pilot Point council to explore funding alternatives for project

Profile image for By John D. Harden / Staff Writer
By John D. Harden / Staff Writer

PILOT POINT — Pilot Point council members decided Monday night they needed more information before starting a project to replace 20 miles of water pipelines.

City Manager Tom Adams said council members want to explore alternative funding options and possibly restructure the city’s water fund debt service to free up resources.

If the city does not identify any additional revenue, officials said, it may be 2018 or 2020 before the project can begin.

Adams told the council he recommends using city employees from the Public Works Department to replace the pipelines over a two-decade period, as opposed to hiring a contractor. He said it’s more cost-effective to have an in-house crew do the work over a period of years.

According to city officials, replacing one mile of pipeline a year would keep the budget flexible and water rates slightly lower. Spreading the cost of the project over two decades frees funds in the budget for other expenses that may need to be addressed in the future, officials said.

If the city would have opted to use an outside contractor, the work would be completed in a shorter period, but it would have required raising water rates by 52 percent, officials said.

But if the council agrees to use an in-house crew, water rates are expected to rise by 35 percent instead.

The annual cost of replacing one mile of pipeline a year is about $283,000, according to a city staff report.

Adams said the water lines are decayed and estimates it will cost nearly $6 million to replace the lines.

City records show that Pilot Point completed 451 water leak repairs from 2000 to 2013, and officials said about 25 percent of the water pumped from city wells each month could be lost, according to a report from the Groundwater Conservation District. The district performs a water audit monthly.

Replacing water and sewer lines has been a major goal for the city, Mayor Pete Hollar said.

Adams is expected to bring more information regarding the pipeline project at the next meeting.

According to a city staff report, several areas that need fixing have been identified. Manhole deterioration is a major problem, according to the report. Bricks from collapsing sewer lines fall and form clogs, and some older clay tile pipe has deteriorated to the point that it collapses and then sections of the pipe must be replaced.

The pipeline project is just one project planned by officials to improve the city’s water system. Other improvements the city is working on include adding water lines and building a pump station, a 200,000-gallon groundwater storage unit, an access road and a chlorination room, Adams said.

To pay for those projects, the city approved higher water rates, which have already taken effect.

In March, city officials approved a 7.2 percent increase to the water rates and a 2.1 percent increase to the sewer rates to help repay $1.1 million the city will use to pay for street and sidewalk improvements, historical preservation projects and park improvements.

JOHN D.HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @JDHarden.