Starkville to get sewage, electricity upgrades

By: 
Faith Lifer
Staff Writer

Starkville’s sewer and electric systems will receive an upgrade after the Board of Aldermen approved two Starkville utility bond requests at Tuesday’s meeting.

Starkville Utilities came before the board Tuesday night for approval to issue two revenue bonds for two separate Starkville Utilities projects.

The issuance of the bonds both passed 6-1, with Vice Mayor and District 6 Alderman Roy A’. Perkins opposed to both bonds.

“I voted against those revenue bonds measures that pertain to the utility department because it is my opinion that they could potentially lead to rate increases,” Perkins said of his votes.

One of the bonds is for the improvement of Starkville’s water and sewer system, and the bond is capped at $10 million. The second bond is for the improvement of Starkville’s electric system, and the bond is capped at $12 million.

Starkville Utilities General Manager Terry Kemp clarified the bonds will not impact the city.

“Both of these are revenue bond processes, so the funds will actually come through revenue that we received through water and sewer sales,” Kemp said.

Both projects are being funded through revenue bonds, which means the project will be funded through the rates Starkville Utilities charges.

“Our rates through the customer base is actually where we paid for the cost of the bonds,” Kemp said.

Kemp said no rate changes are planned at this time for either capital project.

WATER AND SEWER BOND

The bond for the sewer and water systems improvements is targeted for the plant lagoon at the Ernest E. Jones Wastewater Treatment Facility. The collection for Starkville’s sewage currently comes into the Treatment Facility plant, which treats the sewage before it can be discharged. The discharged sewage, which goes into the lagoon, is called sludge. The sludge lagoon at the plant is currently close to 25 acres.

Kemp described the lagoon as a 10-feet deep pit that has filled up with sludge over time.

“The sludge and the wastewater plant is all tied to the collection system and treatment, which has been there for a long, long time, and we’ve gotten to the point that we’ve got to take some action,” Kemp said.

The bond funds will change the current process by drying the sludge, eventually creating the waste into fertilizer.

“So what we’re going to be doing is put a process in here that diverts the sludge into (a new) process that dries it,” Kemp said. “Then it dumps it into some greenhouses over on this side, that further dries it, then you can use it for fertilizing stuff.”

“It really becomes nonhazardous, reusable products,” Kemp added.

Kemp is hopeful Starkville’s citizens will be satisfied with the new approach, which not only attacks the lagoon problem but makes sewage productive.

“I think, long-term, the city will be pleased because we’re looking at more of a renewable, sustainable approach,” Kemp said. “And not just making the problem larger or delaying it.”

Kemp believes the new project will correct current sewer issues.

“I think what we’re doing now is actually correcting it, and then long-term, the need for the lagoon really starts lessening over time, and that’s what you want,” Kemp said.

Kemp said there are no finalized plans for how the fertilizer would be used but Starkville Utilities is currently in discussion with potential users. Kemp then said the preliminary designs for the wastewater plant should be completed in the next 30 days. Afterward, Kemp estimates it will take six months for the final designs to be completed and potentially approved.

If the final plans are approved, Kemp estimates the bidding process and construction will take an additional nine months.

ELECTRICITY BOND

The bond for the electric system improvements will replace one of the four electricity substations in Starkville.

“We’re building a very large substation on the south side of town,” Kemp said. “The substation that we’re replacing is well over 50 years (old). It’s our oldest current station.”

The substation being replaced is located on Industrial Road, and the new substation will be at the end of Azalea Lane.

The new substation will upgrade the electricity capacity in Starkville and will have a new delivery point from the Tennessee Valley Authority. Kemp said the new delivery point should improve the reliability of Starkville’s electricity overall. Kemp said the new substation will also provide backup if half of the system were to go down.

Kemp intends for the new substation to last long-term, past when the bonds have paid for the new substation.

“Both of them are at a point in time where upgrades are needed,” Kemp said of Starkville’s water and sewer and electric systems. “And this will carry the city for many, many years into the future.”

Most of the board was also in favor of the improvements.

“I’m delighted that we are moving forward with infrastructure improvements that are critical to our success,” Mayor Lynn Spruill said of the utility improvements.

“Our lagoon is very close to capacity, and we’re also taking a sustainable approach to it, which is wonderful,” Spruill added. “(The new substation) will also allow us to have greater reliability, as Mr. Kemp said, so greater power, greater reliability. It’s all good.”

IN OTHER NEWS

The board held its second public hearing for the amendment of Starkville’s Code of Ordinances regarding Assemblies, Parades and Processions.

Under the old ordinances, Starkville Police Department Chief Frank Nichols had the power to approve parades and street closings.

“The previous ordinance gave the police chief unilateral authority to approve certain parades,” City Attorney Chris Latimer said.

With the amendment to the ordinances, approval for parades and assemblies must come solely from the board of Aldermen, which is consistent with Starkville’s special events policy.

“This allows the SPD to still have arrest powers and dispersal power, and the city can have permit issuing power and application review power,” Latimer explained. “But otherwise, the terms remain the same.”

There were no citizen appearances for the public hearing Tuesday.

Ward 3 Alderman David Little made a motion to approve the amendment, and the motion passed unanimously.

The board appointed five election commissioners Tuesday based on the five applications received.

The commissioners are Rowen Haug, Jason Hauser, Dave Holley, P. C. McLaurin and Seth Pounds.

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