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River Heights city council invites citizen input on wastewater deal

September 29th, 2015 Posted in Opinion

By Melanie Fenstermaker

RIVER HEIGHTS — River Heights City Council members are seeking citizen input about the possibility of signing a new wastewater treatment agreement with Logan, an issue the city council has debated for months.

The council voted 4-to-1 in August to maintain its current 50-year contract with Logan, which expires in 2025, but a few council members later expressed concern that the possible repercussions of the decision had not been fully discussed.

The decision was revisited during last week’s city council meeting.

“I wish we could get input from the citizens somehow,” said council member Blake Wright. “This is going to impact individual sewer users.”

Next week, fliers with an explanation of the situation will be distributed to each home in River Heights, said Mayor James Brackner. Residents will be invited to a council meeting in October to discuss whether the city should sign the new wastewater agreement or keep its current contract.

There is no firm estimate of the cost of the new wastewater agreement, said city recorder Sheila Lind.

River Heights residents pay Logan much less for wastewater treatment than most residents in Cache County, Lind said, but they pay more for fire services.

One proposed way to save the city money is to approach Logan with a new, lower-cost fire service agreement to balance out the expense of the new wastewater agreement.

During its October meeting, the city council will seek input as to how much money citizens would feel comfortable spending on the new fire service agreement.

If the city chooses not to enter into the new wastewater agreement, River Heights will not have a seat in the committee that will decide future wastewater treatment rates. Having a voice in the committee could help River Heights in future negotiations, but the city would have only 80 percent of one vote.

The city will have to make a new wastewater agreement with Logan in about 10 years. If River Heights decides not to sign Logan’s proposed wastewater agreement, it may damage the relationship between the two cities and make future negotiations more difficult.

The new agreement seeks to include the cities that use its wastewater facilities — Nibley, Hyde Park, Smithfield, River Heights, North Logan and Providence — and was proposed because Logan plans to replace its 50-year-old lagoon treatment system.

TP

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