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Mena City Council Approves Increase in Sewer Rates

Geotube System to be Put in Place Early 2016

BY MELANIE BUCK –

Mena City Council met Tuesday, August 11, at City Hall for their monthly meeting.

The Council approved an ordinance allowing for a raise in Mena’s sewer rates. Even though there is an ordinance in place that allows for a yearly increase, this is the first time in nine years that an increase has been passed, the last time being in 2006. The money from the increase will help with the cost of building, implementing, and maintaining a new economically feasible sludge removal system at the Mena Sewer Plant. The increase will be $1.30 per one thousand gallons and cost each household an average of $5-10 per month. The increase is on sewage only, not on water usage. The increase will begin with the December billing cycle. Pitman also wants to remind consumers that when filling a pool or watering your garden, to call the Water Utility and report that so they can amend your bill to not get an extra sewage charge.

The Council also passed an amendment to allow the Mena Sewer Department to utilize $58,000 in funds from their portion of the Special County Sales Tax to build a pad for the new geotube system. After the withdrawal from the account, a balance will remain of more then $90,000. Work on the pad will begin after the first of the year.

Pitman explained that the plant is 43 years old and it takes extra chemicals to treat the sewage properly, costing the City more money. The geotube system will not only be economically sound for the city, it will also keep added traffic off of the road to the sewer plant. Pitman said that the last time sludge was removed from the sewer pond, it took 3,300 18-wheeler loads, costing $1.3 million dollars plus an extra $200,000 that was paid to the County for the repair of the road that those 18-wheelers traveled. With the new system, the sewage is pumped into geotubes and dried before being hauled away and used for fertilizer, a process that would only require a dump truck. Pitman explained that the sewer pond could now be cleaned once or twice a year instead of once every 10-20 years.

Council member James Earl Turner praised the efforts of Pitman and his team for keeping the Sewer Plant in compliance and also said that Mena did not want to wait to take care of the problems at the plant and become ‘another Fort Smith.’ The problems in Fort Smith referenced by Turner is a lawsuit filed by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) that is costing the City of Fort Smith more than $255million in upgrades to their facility. “We want people to know that’s why the Council is supporting this increase,” said Turner.

Pitman also reported that the problem with excessive water loss has been found and fixed, cutting the water loss in half from previous reports.

In other Council news, they approved the appointment of Lora Rawlings to the Mena Advertising and Promotion Commission to fill the unexpired term of John Vacca. Her term will expire on April 30, 2018.

The purchase of drainage tile for the Street Department in the amount of $12, 194.64 was also approved. The tile is to be used in various areas inside the city limits.

B&L Paving submitted the low bid for the City’s upcoming Hot-Mix Overlay Program. The bid came in at $379,800. Mayor McKee said the program will begin in early September.

The next City Council meeting is set to be held in City Hall on Tuesday, September 15.

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