Paso Robles waste water upgrade tabbed at $50 million

September 29, 2011

Updating Paso Robles’ antiquated waste water system will cost city residents an estimated $50 million, officials have decided, but on the advice of counsel, public presentation of the proposal will wait.

The city council decided this week to postpone a scheduled public hearing on financing the upgrades for the 58-year-old facility after City Attorney Iris Yang suggested more time was needed to allow participation by residents in the decision making process.

Expensive and threatening legal challenges to city officials’ method of finessing the financing of Paso Robles’ share of the Nacimiento Water Project motivated the council’s decision to delay the hearing until Oct. 4. A new rate structure for residents and businesses is also slated to be discussed

Design of the plant’s renovation is complete. Additional capital costs totaling $32 million over the next 16 years “will be needed to address the city’s aged collection system,” Public Works Director Doug Monn said.

Monn noted that annual costs to fund operations, maintenance, planned capital projects, and depreciation could reach $14 million.

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Watch out Paso citizens. The Oct 6 meeting is crucial. The Wastewater rate proposal is fair at this point. The Oct 6 meeting will be to enact lower fees for developers and new residents which will raise fees for present residents. This will result in benefits to those who do not even live here yet and will cause us to pay for them. This will be brought forward courtesy of Ed Steinbeck, Realtor and City Council Member.

Ed Steinbeck, because of conflict of interest, should not be participating in this discussion or vote, IMO.

That is the same rational they are using for the water pipeline and water treatment plant. That new development is going to pay for half of the cost.

Take a look around, there is no new development, and won’t be anytime soon, WE will be paying for the whole thing.

Two developments (Chandler Ranch and another one) have already been approved. Whether or not the developers will go forward–I don’t know.

If there is no new development any time soon, then you’re right. The city council hasn’t mentioned this, have they?

I don’t think Chandler or any other large project has been given a final approval.

These projects do not have final approval.

In fact, some of you may have heard, the city council in all their infinite wisdom decided to implement “Agenda 21” in matters pertaining to our city.

For those of you not familiar with agenda 21, It is a blueprint for governmental control over every aspect of your life. (you should educate yourself about it).

These projects don’t fit into the agenda 21 mold, not much chance of them ever being approved.

Moreover, with a city council with this kind of attitude towards it’s citizens, what chance is there they are going to design a sewer system with the best interest of us in mind?

Cal Coast News, please check your facts and dig into the details before publishing stories about important public projects such as this, or you risk misleading your readers. This wastewater treatment plant upgrade project has been in planning and design for 3 years and various aspects of the project have been considered by the City Council on at least 6 separate occasions during that time, all with the opportunity for public input. The WWTP upgrade is not just necessary because the plant is beyond its useful life; its necessary because the plant’s 5O+ year old technology is not capable of meeting today’s water quality standards.

The City did not just “decide” the project would cost $50 million. A team of experienced professional engineers determined the total project cost to be $49.6 million in 2014 dollars (the anticipated mid point of construction), after years of careful planning, design, value engineering, and third party review. Also, the City is not “finessing” financing of the project. After 2 years of studying all alternatives, the City decided to pursue a low-interest Clean Water Revolving Fund loan because it would have the least impact on ratepayers. Finally, the hearing that was postponed to October 4 has to do with facility charges, which are what new development pays to connect into the City sewer system, not user rates as you report. On Sept 6, City Council authorized its staff to start the process of changing sewer user rates. The written notice that was mailed to all sewer system users last week explains that all sewer system users have an opportunity to protest the changes in writing and at public hearing in November.

. If I had to choose between a representative of the City of Paso Robles or the article by CCN, I choose CCN every day of the week.

M.Thompson, The city has been peeing on your leg and has actually convinced you it is raining. The problem with the sewer has been around along time. Responsible city councils in the past actually started saving for this years ago. Of course later councils decided to spend the money on other policical agendas.

Mr. Thompson, can you inform us if in any capacity the Wallace Group, The Sietz brothers or MWH is, or was previously involved in providing data, legal advice, flow or loading studies, recommendations, documentation of any type, SSWP’s, engineering services, bla,bla,bla to date?

Thank you.

Mismanagement by another poorly run City. I think we are all finding out that these big salaried employees aren’t worth their $$$$. An businesses which would have operating expenses like streets, signals, storm drains, parks with equipment, water and sewer operations, building maintenace knows that they MUST plan for capital improvement maintenace and replacement. Hello, just ask a homeowners association, mobile home park, etc. They know that they have to plan for doing this monthly/annually and work it into their fee structure. But no, not government, they just keep coming back at the taxpayer again and again and again when they need to and tax, or increase fees, etc. without planning because the taxpayer pockets are so deep. They are to business making sure their benefits are up to date and they are politically well connected.

It is in-excusable that the city’s infrastructure is so “antiquated”. The problem we face with the sewer stems from the chronic mis-management of our city over the years.

Citizens, through our sewer bills every month, pay for the sewer system. I am sure our city bureaucrats will say that they haven’t been charging enough to properly maintain the system. Why not, that is their job.

Add this 50 million dollars to the water project and we are on the hook for well over a quarter of a billion dollars. This doesn’t even address the millions of dollars to fix our destroyed streets.

We have watched our city grow at an un-precedented rate. Weather you like the growth or not, the cost of a building permit is enormous. Look around at the hills surrounding paso, every square foot of land has a house on it. Where did all the money go.

The only thing we have to show for it is a bunch of over paid bureaucrats and bike lane to nowhere with pretty red stripes on it.

Good Job Team.

This is a very good point and IMHO happens county wide. The fees are collected monthly for service and operations yet there always seems to be “antiquated” or rundown infrastructure that has to be replaced at huge costs to the already high bills we pay. Why if something needs paint, repair or maintanence does it not get done until it is so far gone it needs replacing.

In effect its Crisis management. Wait until something has completely failed and then there’s no alternative but to replace it under emergency conditions or a lawsuit is in the making when somebody gets hurt. Bottom line is its poor management by our leaders and there’s no excuse for it. You wouldn’t let the paint peel off your house to save the cost of a $5000 paint job in favor of waiting until the woods completely rotted and now requiring a $50,000 siding replacement would you? Ahhh what the hell……its not their money who cares, evidently they don’t.

“Finesse” is an interesting word. They are going to “finesse” my business account out of $73 additional dollars every month for my portion of this $50M project. Why did they not assess a waste water upgrade fee to all the developers when they fell over themselves to build Paso into a residential Mecca? Or the purchasers of those “newly constructed” homes? If there had been a building moratorium and assessment fee, perhaps we would STILL have our beloved Pumpkin Farm and less stress on our aging city waste water system. Did they not realize 20 years ago, this was coming?

Danika, It is not only the matter of increasing capacity, it is upgrading the plant to meet state standards. So, this is the responsibility of longtime residents as well..

You are right. Unfortunately these boards have a lot of Mr. Know It Alls with very little factual evidence. Mostly emotion and intuition.

A facility such as Paso’s built way back is not capable of treating its now exploded population either hydraulically and biologically.. Sure you theoretically need to just make it run better to meet NPDES regs, but it runs poorly because of higher concentrations per gallon (BOD loadings) of poo because of low flow toilets etc. Used to be one turd and 5 gallons of water, now its one turd per 2.5 gallons or less. Also consider far tougher standards these days as environmental issues are now a bigger concern than in 1958 and the possibility of blending effluent of greenbelt water use makes it necessary to produce cleaner water for reuse later.

Oh you got me rolling with that one. Turds per gallon. I’m sure they look at that.

Frankly Danika, I don’t see how Frank Meacham and Jim App can live with themselves after their “eminent domain” move that destroyed our landmark and the family that owned it. The remaining 100 year old oak tree now appears to be dying. What a shame!

I wonder what it would cost if a private developer was to build the exact same type of project?

About half. That’s exactly why most of the local governments are on the fast track to possible bankruptcy.

The next step will be for them to hire a consultant to study the situation so that no one will have to take responsibility for their ignorance in conducting any normal business activities.

But that is how the system works and why it costs 30-40% more on top of hard costs for each project the cities or county handles themselves.

If more attention were paid to ongoing maintenance and upkeep on many facets of our infrastructure before they got to such dilapidated state the costs wold be far less…