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Public-private partnership explored for wastewater plant

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A public-private partnership is being explored for the possible expansion of the wastewater treatment plant on Nucor Road.

The plan was one of two options presented Wednesday to the Montgomery County Regional and Sewer District for funding the proposed project, which seeks to prepare the plant for anticipated business and industry growth along the Nucor Road corridor.

Consultants say the plant’s daily treated wastewater output should be increased to 600,000 gallons from the current 100,000 to support future customers on the system.

Bringing in a private company would speed up construction and allow the district to put off principal loan payments as new customers move in, said Lana Beregszazi, president of consulting firm BCS Management, which first proposed the expansion in December.

“Your revenue at current will not support a $3.5 or $5 million — or whatever the project cost ends up being — wastewater treatment plant expansion, so you need to buy time to see additional connections happen,” she said.

The second funding option is a low-interest loan from the state, bringing with it higher financing costs and a longer project timeline. Tax increment financing dollars are currently unavailable to back the loan, financial consultant Jeff Peters told the district.

Under a public-private partnership, construction pricing is guaranteed and the district would have up to three years to grow the customer base before making full principal payments. The private company would hand control of the facility back to the district once the expansion is complete.

BCS will begin seeking quotes to determine the cost of a partnership. No timetable for any expansion has been set.

The district initially believed the plant was nearing full capacity at the plant after lines were extended to homes and businesses on State Road 32 East. By adding more customers to the system, the district hopes to generate enough revenue to avoid a rate increase.

The current rate of about $50 is not high enough for the district to break even and have enough money to cover infrastructure projects.

Financial consultant Jeff Peters told the district that it should begin considering rate changes to boost revenues.

“I don’t know … politically, how viable that is and when you want to go down that road,” he added.

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