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PUD discusses next steps for Carlsborg

by AMANDA WINTERS
Sequim Gazette

The Clallam County Public Utility District Board of Commissioners next week will consider abandoning plans to form a local utility district in Carlsborg.

 

The LUD formation process began as a way to determine the boundaries of a proposed sewer project, as well as who would pay for it. Boundaries for the LUD were proposed in July 2010 but never finalized.

 

The Carlsborg Urban Growth Area was ruled as noncompliant by the Washington State Growth Management Hearings Board in 2008 for not having a sewer plan in place. The board ruled a sewer plan was necessary under the Growth Management Act and the county has spent nearly the past four years both challenging the ruling in court and working to develop a wastewater treatment plan. Since the ruling, almost all forms of development within the UGA are strictly prohibited.

 

PUD General Manager Doug Nass said Carlsborg doesn’t need the LUD anymore because Clallam County authorized repaying a $10 million state loan with money from the county’s Opportunity Fund.

 

“Very much on our minds was the cost associated with an LUD,” Commissioner Ted Simpson said at a Feb. 6 board meeting. The project wasn’t financially feasible through an LUD, he said.

 

The whole ball game changed on Dec. 20, 2011, when Clallam County commissioners authorized using $10 million from the Opportunity Fund to repay a $10 million Public Works Trust Fund loan, Simpson said.

 

Since the county is utilizing Opportunity Fund money, there will be no need for liens to be placed on property, PUD Commissioner Hugh Haffner said.

 

The Opportunity Fund, which comes from a 0.09 percent state sales tax, can be used for public infrastructure projects that spur economic growth.

Proceeding

Simpson said the PUD intends to proceed with the trunk line and sewage treatment facility proposed for Carlsborg.

 

Brian Frazier, director of the Citizens for the Preservation of Carlsborg, asked the PUD commissioners under what authority they are proceeding with the project.

 

He accused county commissioners of manipulating funds and said, “My community would like to know the truth.”

 

Marnee Foldoe, a Carlsborg resident, said no one wants or needs the sewer.

 

“How do we get this thing stopped?” she asked.

 

“Well, there are people that would like to have this as well,” Simpson replied.

 

Two men in the audience at the meeting raised their hands, indicating they want the sewer project.

 

Haffner said it was important for the county to find a way to finance the project, and it did.

 

“The community as a whole needs this (sewer) over the next 30 years,” he said.

 

The PUD’s interest in the project is twofold, he said. First, PUD is a utility provider and a sewer system falls within the scope of its services. Second, the PUD has a well providing water to people in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley and elevated nitrate levels in the groundwater supply raise concerns.

 

PUD staff said elevated nitrate levels haven’t appeared in any other PUD wells in the county.

 

The resolution not to proceed with the LUD process comes before the PUD commissioners for a vote Feb. 13.

Work session

PUD commissioners, PUD staff and County Planner Carol Creasey met Feb. 7 to discuss the project.

Creasey said connection charge estimates should be determined in the next couple months.

 

The $14 million project now has full funding in place: a $10 million loan from the Public Works Trust Fund to be repaid by the county Opportunity Fund, a $3 million grant from Clallam County and a $1 million loan from the county to help with hardship cases.

 

Creasey said public input will be sought before the costs are finalized.

 

The big question is how much money, if any, the county wants to recoup for the Opportunity Fund through connection charges, Creasey said.

 

“They have to decide what to charge that will make sense for customers and cover operations and maintenance and capital recovery,” Haffner said.

 

In the next few months the PUD and the county will accept a Conceptual Interlocal Agreement and the Washington State Department of Ecology will review and give approval to the wastewater treatment system plans over the summer, Nass said.

 

Design of the system is estimated to begin in December 2012 and construction bids to be solicited in January 2014, with construction to begin in April 2014.

 

Nass said the facilities could start in early February 2015 with the first billings sent in March 2015.

 

He hopes the PUD and the county can start an initial connection subscription process this fall with incentives for people to get on board early, he said.

 

Reach Amanda Winters at awinters@sequimgazette.com.

 

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