Bond needs to pass for Rhome’s future

By Sam Eason | Published Saturday, October 20, 2018

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Does the city need to expand the Eastside Wastewater Treatment Plant?

Capacity is 100,000 and expansion will bring us to 250,000 gallons per day. Rhome had a 75 percent average in three past months, and this triggered the TCEQ requirement to initiate engineering and financial planning for expansion and/or upgrading. An initial plan is complete. The final plan is not.

On Sept. 22, 23 and 24, we reached 100,000, 93,000 and 85,000 gallons respectively. The average for September was only 52,000, and it only rained three days. When it rains, we are near or at capacity. It’s not the average. It’s the peak usage. Who wants to live close to the plant on rainy days?

We must expand for our future. This bond will position the city to receive the coming growth.

How is the city of Rhome paying for it and what is the impact to the taxpayers?

The total cost is $3.5 million. Rhome’s portion is $2.6 million. It will include the final plan. There is no tax rate increase.

This comes out to $165,000 per year. Look at the budget to see where the public works budget has been adjusted to provide the funding.

Will Prairie Point housing development help with the cost? There is $910,000 allocated to the Prairie Point development. When the bond passes, the developers have agreed to put up their share.

Should the developers back out, the city always has the option to complete the engineering design as required by the TCEQ and stop there. Rhome doesn’t have to use the rest of the bond money. If the bond doesn’t pass, we won’t have the option.

If the bond doesn’t pass, will the Prairie Point housing development come in? No.

What happens if the bond doesn’t pass? Rhome won’t be able to pass another sewer bond for three years. The city will still be required to complete the engineering plan per the TCEQ at a cost of $266,400.

These expenses must come out of the budget. The city can find the first $165,000, but where does the remaining $101,400 come from?

From the beginning of the initial design to the bond election delay, construction and bid process, this puts us out another 15 to 18 months. If we continue to delay, what is the message sent to this and all future developers about to build in Rhome? How much more will it cost? Prices only go up. If we don’t have a place to put sewage, why would anyone want to move here? Why would a grocery store or restaurant come to town without the infrastructure in place for future residents?

New developers are surrounding us. If they stay away, then Rhome will not have the amenities the citizens are demanding, nor will we reap the benefit of sales tax revenue instead of property taxes. We have to position Rhome for future demands or Rhome’s future will be uninviting.

Sam Eason

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