Share of millions in sewer plant upgrades an issue
A man who has had a running battle with the town of Coulee Dam over water charges, appeared last Thursday at Elmer City’s town council, charging that the town there is being overcharged by Coulee Dam for its sewer service.
Greg Wilder brought agreement documents between the two towns and took issue with the way Coulee Dam is drafting its sewer charges, maintaining that Elmer City’s quarterly bill is 25 percent higher than it should be. Wilder said this has been going on for the past 10 years or more.
Wilder told town officials that they should hire a lawyer to look over the agreement, and if the two town councils were to meet, Elmer City should take its attorney along.
No such meeting has been set, and according to Coulee Dam officials, if Elmer City wants a joint meeting to discuss the two municipalities’ sewer agreement, all it has to do is request it.
The town of Coulee Dam bills Elmer City $10,000 to $12,000 a quarter for sewer services according to its flow measurement. Wilder maintains that this is 25 percent higher than it needs to be.
In a 50-year agreement between the two towns, the method of charges are explained:
“Flow measuring devices shall be maintained to record the flows generated by each town. All of the costs of operation and maintenance shall be paid by each town in proportion to the flow generated by each town. Coulee Dam shall administer the facilities and shall keep all records pertaining thereto and shall bill Elmer City its share thereof at intervals of each three months. Each town respectively, shall establish rates for the gathering and disposal of sewage which shall be adequate to pay its share of costs provided for herein and to amortize any debt incurred for the construction of the planned facilities.”
The agreement was signed in January, 1975.
Wilder, a Coulee Dam resident, has been questioning his own town on its decision to spend $4.9 million to redo its wastewater treatment plant.
Wilder told the Elmer City council that the costs would likely be more like $6.2 to $7.2 million.
“You’re stuck,” Wilder said.
Wilder has been against the project from the get-go, charging that no state or federal agency required the project, but that Coulee Dam was talked into it by its engineering firm, Gray & Osborn.
Wilder also appeared before the Elmer City Council last month. He told council members then that the project could cost $8 to $12 million.
At that time, Councilmember Donna DeWinkler asked Mayor Mary Jo Carey to contact a lawyer to see if the wastewater treatment plan could be stopped because the town of Elmer City was not included in the agreement for this project.
Wilder told the Elmer City Council that it was being treated as a customer, not as a partner.
The town still hadn’t consulted legal counsel on the issue by the April 12 meeting.
Coulee Dam had invited Elmer City’s council to a joint meeting a couple of years ago when Gray & Osborn engineers reviewed the project. That meeting was June 16, 2010. Then in January of this year, Elmer City’s town clerk, Renee Tillman, attended a Coulee Dam Town Council meeting at which the wastewater treatment plant project was discussed.