Truesdale taking steps for sewage plant

By: 
Adam Rollins
Staff Writer

The city of Truesdale is taking steps toward building its own sewage treatment plant. The city announced last week that it is seeking an engineering firm to begin making plans for the project.

At the same time, city officials are concerned about the potentially ballooning cost of building a proposed storm shelter and community center at Bruer Park.

Truesdale aldermen discussed the project plans during a public meeting May 13. Truesdale has been mulling plans to expand sewer service since February, when a capacity limit at the Warrenton sewage plant put a stop to a major residential development along Veterans Memorial Parkway.

Warrenton announced that no more development outside its boundaries would be accepted for sewer treatment until its plant is expanded in 2027. That isn’t fast enough for Truesdale, which wants to welcome an ongoing wave of new housing and commercial development.

“This community continues to grow. Look at the growth in subdivisions, and possible industrial park stuff going on,” said Alderman Mike Thomas. “We need to get out from under (Warrenton).”

Truesdale Mayor Chris Watson told The Record the city hopes to build a plant that could handle 200,000 gallons of sewage treatment per day. That would allow for significant growth compared to the city’s current daily usage of 39,000 gallons.

Watson said a very early estimate for the cost of the project is up to $2.5 million, but the true cost won’t be clear until an engineer studies the project. What is clear is that Truesdale wouldn’t be able to finance such a project without major assistance from grants, Watson said.

Boonslick Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Chad Eggen is confident Truesdale could get that grant support. A grant from USDA Rural Development would cover 75 percent of the cost, if an engineering report shows the need, he said.

Along with other potential grants and added financing from USDA Rural Development, the project could be very affordable, Eggen said, and any loan financing could be paid back using service fees. Eggen added that the plant’s needed capacity will have to be determined by an engineer.

The city of Truesdale currently collects about $8,000 per month from homeowners and businesses to pay for Warrenton’s sewer service. That money would be redirected to pay for Truesdale’s plant once it’s operational, city officials said.

As alternates for sewer service, aldermen also discussed a joint sewer system with future industrial development, or requesting service from the large network of Public Water Supply District 2, which currently serves Wright City and parts of Warren and St. Charles counties.

Eggen said the engineer selected to study the project will evaluate what the most cost-effective option will be for Truesdale’s sewer service. He estimated that on a tight schedule, a plant could be built and online within the next few years.

Shelter uncertain

Aldermen also received an update on an estimated $1.8 million project to build a storm shelter and community center at Bruer Park. Truesdale officials are growing nervous over the looming cost of the project.

Engineering and construction for the shelter is being financed by a 90-percent cost share from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s “safe room” grant program. But FEMA will only pay for features that are absolutely necessary for a shelter, and not things like air conditioning units, for example.

So although Truesdale’s portion of the project is supposed to be $186,000, city officials are worried that covering the gap between their and FEMA’s definition of “necessary” will cost upwards of double that.

“It’s a 10-percent match (for the city), but it’s really going to cost you 20 to 25 percent to get you the functions that you need,” commented project engineer Bart Korman.

Some of the structural requirements of the shelter are even going to stretch the budget of what FEMA does pay for, Korman said. If the project runs over budget, Truesdale would be responsible for the difference.

That concern weighed heavily on the aldermen and mayor as Korman told them that construction bids will be solicited and received by mid-August.

Mayor Watson said that’s when Truesdale will have to make a final decision about whether it will proceed with the project or back out.

“We want to make sure that the city can afford it,” Watson said. “We don’t want to put a bunch of money into it ... just to find out that our anticipated $180,000 match turned into a $500,000 project. ... That wouldn’t be doable.”

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