Vote approaching

Supes to decide Dec. 6 on regionalizing sewer services
By: Stephanie Dumm, News Messenger Reporter
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A Lincoln city councilman responded to skeptical questions about sewer regionalization during Monday night’s Rural Lincoln Municipal Advisory Council meeting. Placer County Supervisor Robert Weygandt, who represents District Two, gave a presentation on the potential regional sewer project to the advisory board and 20 members of the public. On Dec. 6, the Placer County Board of Supervisors will decide whether to regionalize sewer services between Lincoln, Auburn and Placer County at Lincoln’s facility or upgrade the county’s wastewater treatment plant that serves Sewer Maintenance District 1 in north Auburn, according to Weygandt. The cost of the regional sewer project to build the pipeline is $92 million, according to Weygant. The cost to upgrade the Auburn Wastewater Treatment Plant so it meets federal and state standards is $65 million, according to Weygandt, and the cost to rebuild the county’s wastewater treatment plant is $63 million. Under the regional sewer project, a pipeline would be built to bring wastewater from Auburn to North Auburn to Lincoln’s wastewater plant, according to Weygandt. Weygandt said Lincoln’s wastewater treatment plant “meets federal and state standards and has room for expansion.” “In my mind, there are huge inherit benefits in regionalizing versus upgrading,” Weygandt said. One benefit of building the sewer pipeline is protecting endangered salmon and steelhead in Auburn Ravine and Coon Creek, according to Weygandt. “The Lincoln plant also has very desirable attributes. It’s on a very large footprint and can be easily expanded,” Weygandt said. The regional sewer project will also make it possible for Auburn and county water to be reclaimed or re-used, according to Weygandt. Rural Lincoln resident Warren Bostick spoke several times during the presentation, asking about the cost of regionalization and Lincoln’s finances. “The city of Lincoln is in desperate financial conditions,” Bostick said. “Would you call it a risk to allow a municipality that can’t cover their own expenses to take the lead on a project for the county?” Weygandt said he “wouldn’t use desperate” to describe Lincoln’s financial condition and that the contract between Lincoln, Auburn and Placer County would “protect rate-payers.” “The proposal by the city of Lincoln provides that they recoup oversizing money they have spent, which is a financial shot in the arm,” Weygandt said. Earlier in the presentation, Weygandt said that Lincoln had oversized their sewer pipes for future growth. Lincoln City Councilman Spencer Short, who attended Monday’s meeting, said the cost to oversize the sewer pipes between 2004 and 2006 was $12 million. Short also addressed Bostick’s comment. “The news of Lincoln’s financial demise is greatly exaggerated,” Short said. “The issue we are having in Lincoln is General Fund related.” “The good news is Lincoln still has an operating wastewater facility that provides services at a low cost, $35.08 per user,” Short said. “We made a proposal, we feel strongly that we can make it happen, recoup (oversizing) costs and keep the prices low.”