GARLAND – By Cari Doutre – November 20, 2020
Plans to build a new wastewater treatment plant in Garland City are still moving forward despite a three-year delay and other obstacles the city has faced throughout this process which began in 2012.
It took years for much of the city’s underground sewer lines to be repaired, replaced or installed ahead of the wastewater treatment plant’s construction - which has just begun.
With an original price tag of $6 million and a completion year set for 2018, Garland City now expects the wastewater treatment plant to be done by fall 2021 with a price tag of $10.5 million. About 35 percent of that cost will be paid for by grants.
Now, as plans are moving forward, Garland City is raising residents’ sewer rates. The city plans to raise the rate an $5 ($48 total) when the plant is operational.
But before the Garland City Council could raise those rates, they were legally required to hold a public hearing. On Wednesday, Nov. 18, that public hearing was held - an opportunity for the public to give their input.
One of the biggest challenges, and a leading factor for the delays, has been in regard to the engineering firm Garland City originally hired to get this project going – Cascade Earth Sciences Engineering. Eventually the city fired that engineering firm for non-performance and is currently working with Sunrise Engineering moving forward.
During Wednesday night’s public hearing, two residents voiced concerns - and not just over the increased monthly rate.
“Are you going after that old engineering firm for wasting four or five years of city time and money and not producing anything?” Asked Steve Littlefield, a Garland City resident and a member of the city’s Planning and Zoning Committee.
Littlefield wants Cascade Earth Sciences Engineering to be held responsible for their part in the delays.
“We’ve got to pay for it and it’s too bad it’s taken so long because of construction costs. Are we going to pay for three-quarters or double what it would have been three or four years ago if the engineering firm would have been on the ball? They should be liable for that, for the increase and the excuses that they had,” Littlefield said.
Garland City Mayor Todd Miller responded to Littlefield’s comments stating that it was in the city’s best interest not to take civil action against Cascade Engineering and sue them.
“The advice of the experts said don’t waste your time and money,” Miller said.
Richard Owen, a former Garland City Mayor, asked the council what the money from the increased rate will go – for sewer lines throughout the city or for the wastewater treatment plant facility.
“This mythical $5 has got to go somewhere,” Owen said. “Don’t throw an increase at us and go ‘just because.’”
“Give us some figures and facts on why we need to do these things,” he added.
Miller had an answer for that.
“This isn’t something we just decided today to do this. We’ve been talking about this for seven or eight years and we’ve been talking specifically about the numbers every single meeting for last year. This isn’t something that we just made up,” Miller said.
Miller encouraged those in attendance to attend those public meetings where the council discusses numbers and related information in regard to the wastewater treatment plant.
Owen added that he wasn’t against moving forward with the wastewater treatment plant, he just wants transparency from the city on financial matters associated with this project.
Miller added during the meeting that the “council has given me verbal approval to go up $50 on the rates,” he said.
“Right now, we need $48 a month to pay for our bond. That’s including the collecting system and the waste treatment process,” Miller said.
Miller expressed his own frustrations with the previous engineering firm and the delays leading up to the city’s current state. He also added exactly why Garland City is moving forward with this wastewater treatment facility.
“If we did not build this, if we just stuck with Tremonton’s plant, we would be paying more than $50 a month and we would have zero control over any of this process. We’re going to be paying $48 a month and we’re going to own our own plant, which has a lot of advantages,” Miller said.
“We can decide which developments, subdivisions, industry, commerce, anything that we want to come in. Right now, all of that is at the mercy of Tremonton giving us permission to bring those things in because everything that comes in has to go through Tremonton’s wastewater treatment plant. They’re at capacity and they’re not going to allow any of those,” he said.
This entire process for Miller and members of the city council hasn’t come without concerns for Garland City residents and their well-being.
“This has been hard,” Miller said. “It doesn’t come without a lot of thought.”
Garland City is also dedicated to seeing the project through.
“We’re past the point of no return,” Miller added.