ZACHARY — The City Council on Monday discussed selling $9.3 million in bonds to the state Department of Environmental Quality to pay for improvements to Zachary’s sewer system.
The proposed sale would need state bond commission approval before it could be put on the Oct. 22 ballot.
Zachary’s home-rule charter requires voter approval before the city can bond utility revenue for special projects. The charter also states the proposition must be published in the city’s official journal weekly for four weeks before the election.
DEQ has offered to lend the money to the city at an interest rate of 0.95 percent over 22 years. The bonds would be retired from utility revenue.
City Engineer Bianca Carambat said the feasibility study ordered by the city shows utility rates would need to be raised incrementally over three years.
By 2014, sewer rates would increase an average of $7 per month, while gas and water rates would rise $6 and $9 respectively.
“We would have to raise the utility rates anyway,” Mayor David Amrhein said. “It’s been at least 30 years since sewer rates went up and 11 years for water and gas. We are a growing city. We have to do this.”
The mayor said improvements had to be made or the city would risk being fined by the state.
Many of the sewer lines in the city are made of clay and are deteriorating, especially at the joints, Carambat said. She said the proposal calls for using video cameras to determine which lines need to be repaired or replaced.
Plans also call for rehabilitation of pumps and installation of backup generators.
The discussion came during a work session at which no votes could be taken, but the council is scheduled to meet Tuesday to decide whether to hold the special election.
BOND SALES: In a related issue, the council discussed hiring a bonding attorney.
Chief Financial Officer Steve Nunnery recommended the city hire Jerry Osborne, who also represents the Zachary School Board.
“His expertise got us here tonight,” Nunnery said.
The mayor said he’s learned a lot about bonds during discussions with Osborne.
“I’ve been representing governments for 45 years,” Osborne said. “This is all I do and I love it.”