By Dave Fidlin
The ongoing discussion of the future of Whitewater’s wastewater treatment plant reached a new chapter last week when a potential public-private partnership for one component of the project bubbled to the surface.
While city officials capped off 2015 with a plan to allocate $20.7 million toward upgrading the city’s wastewater treatment facility, several outstanding issues remain, including a high-strength waste receiving station that could be used as an income generator by processing waste from other municipalities and companies.
Several iterations of the high-strength waste receiving station have been floated throughout the discussion of upgrading the wastewater treatment facility, but the possible public-private partnership, which was unveiled March 15 at a Common Council, is a new dynamic to the discussion.
The city has enlisted the services of accounting firm Baker Tilly to examine a range of financial-related options for the facility. Representatives from the company were on hand at last week’s meeting.
After a round of debate, an agreement with the company has been forged on a narrow 4-3 vote and sets the stage for the possible construction of the high-strength waste receiving station. It includes a provision the city contribute $10,000 toward a nonrefundable retainer fee for the company’s services.
The agreement also includes a stipulation the company receive a success fee of 10 percent of the estimated cost of the receiving station’s construction. A minimum $40,000 would be dolled out if the project comes to fruition.
Assistant City Manager Chris McDonell, who has been handling the project, said a joint private partner in the venture could “provide most or all of the funding to construct the high-strength receiving station and revenue sharing for services provided by the (wastewater) utility.”
Councilpersons in favor of the plan included Lynn Binnie, Chris Grady, Ken Kidd and Patrick Wellnitz. Opponents included Council President Patrick Singer and council members Stephanie Goettl and James Langnes III.