Closer than ever before: Mt. Shasta City Council approves bid for wastewater treatment project

Kelsey Shelton
Mount Shasta Herald

Following a second round of bids, the Mt. Shasta City can begin its long awaited and state-mandated Wastewater Treatment Plant project after a unanimous vote by city councilors on Monday evening.

The project, which was tentatively awarded to different construction company three years ago, had it's funding pulled by the state due to California's over-allocation on projects, said city manager Bruce Pope. 

City of Mt. Shasta's logo

Last month, sealed bids were received, opened, publicly read aloud and reviewed by city officials and public works. Of the bids received, it was decided that the construction contract go to Clark Bros.,Inc.

According to the city's public works director Rod Bryan, the base bid for the project is $19,599,457.01, and also includes some newly added items that could potentially impact the final cost of the project. These items were added by the state to ensure that the wastewater treatment plant will follow mandated guidelines.

"This resolution is to authorize the city manager to issue the notice of award and, upon receiving the final budget adjustment approval, gives the city manager authority to proceed with the contractor after documents are successfully finished for the project," Bryan said on Monday. 

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All five councilors: John Redmond, John Stackfleth, Tessa Montgomery, Tim Stearns and Jeffrey Collings approved the resolution.

The city now has to wait 90-120 days for the state to approve the additional requirements to the project, verify funding before the city can begin the project. 

Bryan noted that this second bid was not as high as anticipated, which makes the final budget request for the state "more palatable," and he believes it should be approved and finalized without issue.

Earlier in the meeting during staff comments, Pope said he's "very hopeful" that the project will move forward, and anticipates construction beginning this summer.

Other business

City Councilors had previously discussed an issue regarding modification of sewer rates, and whether or not that would create issues for rate payers both in and out of city limits.

Residents in unincorporated Mount Shasta are proposing a different rate system for sewage and water treatment because they receive several services from the county. According to Pope, discussions have been had with Lake Siskiyou Mutual Water Company, and they have asked for a reduction in sewer rates.

As of now, Lake Siskiyou Mutual Water Company services 80 homes and was developed outside of the city. Pope explained they have an agreement with the county, and their pipe eventually mingles with the city's system for less than 100 feet. 

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Residents and LSMWC believe that they should pay a metered or adjusted rate compared to those living within city limits who utilize the full system.

According to Pope, staff recommended denying the resident's request, due to counsel provided by City Attorney John Kenny. According to Kenny, the fees, which within city limits were raised and set by a 218 process, and a main provision of that is that all the fees were to be "set the same for all customers." The city and county generally cannot make exceptions in a 218 process, even for affordable housing projects.

The issue was concerning to Pope, as well as councilors and the city attorney, as the changing of the process, and changing of fees could jeopardize the funding for the wastewater treatment plant project, of which a bid for the project was later approved by council.

Pope recommended that the city and PACE Engineering meet with Lake Siskiyou Mutual Water Company and discuss the implementation of flow meters, which would alter the charges based on waste processed, rather than a flat rate.

Mark Russell, who has been addressing the issue with the city for almost four years, stated that residents in the area are "not on the city line," and they maintain and operate their own system for waste treatment. "We're just asking to pay for what is reasonable, if you don't want to modify or change the rate, I suggest the city maintain our system, and we have no problem paying the whole price," Russell said.

Other speakers and residents appreciated the idea of a metered process.

At the end of the lengthy discussion, Stearns moved to table the item until after funding for the wastewater treatment plant was approved and set by the state. Once that happens, the city will be able to discuss rate changes without jeopardizing the state mandated project. The motion was seconded by Collings and was then passed by a 5-0 vote.