06/11/10 — Eureka takes first step in paying sewer debt

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Eureka takes first step in paying sewer debt

By Laura Collins
Published in News on June 11, 2010 1:46 PM

The town of Eureka has taken a step toward paying off its sewer debt to the town of Fremont.

Fremont handles the sewage treatment for Eureka and sends the town a bill each month. But Eureka doesn't always pay the monthly bill in full, which has led to the $73,000 debt of accumulated charges.

However Eureka Mayor Doug Booth recently brought a $20,000 check to Fremont Town Administrator Kerry McDuffie, which has reduced the debt to $53,000. McDuffie said Booth also plans to pay back more of the debt after the new budget year in July. He added that while the money helps, the town is still in a tough spot financially.

"It's a good start. We look forward to seeing what they do in July," McDuffie said. "It's going to help us with our cash flow. We are very tight on money and we are very limited on our available funds right now. It would have been very hard and still would if an emergency comes up and we can't react the way we need to."

Eureka began a sewer rehabilitation project about five years ago, which cost $1 million in grant money. Some of the town's sewer lines, which stretch about two miles, were repatched and replaced. But the project didn't seem to help the sewer bill.

The town of Fremont will help Eureka find some of its sewer problems to help lower the monthy bill. Eureka is hiring two Fremont employees who are using their sewer camera to find trouble spots that need repaired.

"We're helping them find where some of their problems are," McDuffie said. "The camera has been one of the best purchases the town of Fremont has ever made."

Eureka Commissioner Myrtle Sauls said some of the debt problem originated when the town's bill was significantly higher then the $6,500 Eureka had allotted each month. Since December, she said the sewer bill has been around $12,000 to $15,000 each month.

The town of Fremont has not been charging Eureka penalty fees. If the fee is applied, it would add 10 percent of the total unpaid amount to the bill each month. The Fremont Board of Commissioners will likely vote on whether the town will start charging the penalty fee at Tuesday's meeting. McDuffie said he's not sure what to suggest to the board yet.

"If the board wants to continue waving the penalty that's up to the board," he said. "I'm thinking about suggesting don't waive the penalty anymore, but give them 90 days notice before doing it. That way it gives them a little bit of time to get caught up. But it's not fair for our citizens to give the town of Eureka an interest-free loan."