Nearly $20m for water treatment plant project

City Council introduced a measure to borrow almost $20 million to build a new interconnection pipeline as part of upgrades to the city’s water treatment plant.

421b5-rahwaywatertreatmentplantThe governing body introduced O-2-15 on first reading at its meeting on Feb. 9,  authorizing the issuance of $19.785 million in bonds to finance the project.

A public hearing and final approval is scheduled during for a special meeting at 6:45 p.m. on March 3, ahead of the regularly scheduled pre-conference meeting at 7 p.m.

The bond ordinance must be effective by the end of March to be included in this year’s New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust, which closes in May. The trust is expected to provide to finance the water treatment plant and interconnection project. Half of the upgrades are to be covered by interest-free financing through the trust. The state’s Local Finance Board also must give its approval by March.

The project to upgrade the water treatment plant on Westfield Avenue first was presented to City Council in summer 2013 , with an estimated $16.6-million budget. The governing body subsequently approved a 10-percent increase in water rates to help pay off the the debt associated with the project.

City Administrator Cherron Rountree, who was appointed in  November 2013, explained that the original estimate included only upgrades for a new membrane filter and the interconnection pipeline was a separate project at one point. Now, they’ve been combined into one project, she said.

City Council also approved borrowing some $1.4 million to cover some design and engineering costs in addition to some immediate repairs and upgrades. Adding to the $19.785 bond ordinance would total some $21.185 million in authorized debt for the treatment plant upgrades. City Council has since approved several contracts of about $100,000 for engineering services and nearly $600,000 in design services on the project.

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