CharMeck providing sewer services to MH residents

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Scott L
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CharMeck providing sewer services to MH residents

Postby Scott L » Fri Oct 23, 2015 6:14 am

Who knows about how and why our town leaders are proposing we contract with Charlotte to take care of our wastewater treatment? Councilman Gowen says this is a plan we're chasing unless/until someone stops it. And the Mayor says this is "going to happen". And it's probably 10 years in the future until we "connect" with them though agreements are already made.

Councilman Gowen referenced some kind of citizen group that participated in this strategic decision. Who cherry-picked this group of citizens? I do not trust this kind of strategy yet. More information needs to get out there and be documented.

1) When does the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) make new guidelines that go into effect?
2) When would new regulations impact us?
3) What does our growth plan look like? (Are we causing and creating growth or planning and managing it?)
4) Does the DNR offer money to small towns that will have trouble with new regulations? (They usually do)
5) Is our tax money going to EXPANSION rather than upkeep with the sewer systems?
6) Whose idea was it to let Charlotte sell us wastewater services?
7) We've heard from the Mayor that this is "going to happen" -- where are all the public records of when/how this strategic decision evolved?

Pun intended -- something about this stinks! Having lived in Charlotte for 7 years, I trust them to extort anyone they can for "increased revenue" to pay for all their pet projects. I never thought they would be able to reach over the county line to pick my pockets! How can we defend ourselves from this? This has to be a strategic decision from City Council and I want to see the public records of who supports what.

http://banner-news.com/growth-and-devel ... 971-71.htm
Last edited by Scott L on Fri Oct 23, 2015 7:29 am, edited 4 times in total.
  

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Scott L
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Re: CharMeck providing sewer services to MH residents

Postby Scott L » Fri Oct 23, 2015 12:48 pm

What seems to be is Mount Holly has all of the budget to "pollute" the Catawba with phosphorus and nitrogen. Charlotte wants to "take" that polluting-budget to serve its own needs. In return, Charlotte will "take" Mt. Holly's sewer treatment plant and charge Mount Holly for the operation and maintenance of a newly built plant. (However much that is.)

Ref: http://charmeck.org/city/charlotte/Util ... iefing.pdf

Interesting to note, this is a NEGOTIATED deal. Those invited to participate were below. Notice that HOMEOWNERS, VOTERS, CITIZENS of Mt. Holly are NOT invited to participate/negotiate! And if you think your councilpersons are negotiating and participating for you HOMEOWNERS, VOTERS, and CITIZENS with only your best interest in mind, you are naive! Why you need good quality councilpersons who represent ONLY the voters of Mount Holly is to ensure OUR interests are represented over and above all these groups below.

Stakeholder Agencies Invited to Participate
American & Efird, Inc.
ARCADIS G&M of NC
Catawba Lands Conservancy
Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities Advisory Board
City of Belmont
City of Mount Holly
City of Rock Hill
Clariant
Crosland
Duke Energy
Gaston Chamber of Commerce
Gaston County Planning Department
Hawfield Road residents
Lake Wylie Marine Commission
Mecklenburg County Land Use and Environmental Services Agency
Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation
Mount Holly Community Development Foundation
Mount Holly Utilities Committee
NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
NC Wildlife Resources Commission
Quality of Natural Resources Commission
Riverfront Homeowners Association
SC Department of Health and Environmental Control
Sierra Club
Town of Stanley
US National Whitewater Center
York County, SC
  

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Scott L
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Re: CharMeck providing sewer services to MH residents

Postby Scott L » Fri Oct 23, 2015 12:56 pm

"Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities is pushing a deal with Mount Holly for a new treatment plant — the first to be built by the city in more than 30 years — that could help anchor a renewable-energy business park." -- Looks like someone "pushed a deal" by negotiating with the right people. What Mount Holly citizen feels sold out now seeming that they will pay for Charlotte's treatment plant and renewable energy park with some kind of thing to be built over there that needs an air-quality permit because of concern it will pollute the air?

"Sewer rates would have to be raised to pay for the capital expense, but how much is not clear at this point." -- So Mount Holly will end up helping pay for building a new treatment plant anyway -- just that it will be disguised in the monthly charges.

http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/st ... ory11.html

Could this be an artificially-created crisis to make our sewage systems appear full on paper so that we can work a deal with Charlotte? How much sewage does our town take in from out-of-town areas? "[Stanley] currently treats approximately half of the sewage generated at their own wastewater treatment plant and sends the other half to neighboring Mount Holly for treatment."

https://townofstanley.org/announcements ... utilities/
  

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Scott L
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Re: CharMeck providing sewer services to MH residents

Postby Scott L » Wed Nov 04, 2015 7:51 am

Mr. Gowen no longer supports keeping the sewer "in house". I fear government wants to merge and therefore gave Mr. Gowen slanted data for him to change his mind. I have no evidence of this, but this is typical for government and Charlotte is a very large, smart, and manipulative entity that should not be underestimated.

Gowen: The basics of my plan for our wastewater issues are centered around the idea, first and foremost, that we must keep things “in house.” The estimated cost to update the plant will be roughly $30 million and while not all parts of my plan will be popular, I believe that it will be the most effective way to keep rates down.

We must keep the project in Mount Holly in order to control long-term costs. We cannot subject ourselves to the risks of changes or rate increases that could come with partnering with another municipality. Instead, we may be able to use excess capacity early on to generate revenue by treating water for others.

Funding should be generated through a General Obligation, or “Go Bond,” with an early call feature to keep interest rates low. I suggest we work to pay for this bond primarily through revenue we collect from treating wastewater since that is the most equitable approach for the citizens of Mount Holly. Pay for what you produce. At the same time, we would leverage our great city staff to generate grants that may reduce the overall burden. They have generated $5 million in grants during the last three years so I am sure that we can get some assistance on this project.

We would then make a 25 cent per 1,000 gallon increase on water and sewage rates, across the board for all customers, to build reserves. The average residential customer currently uses about 2,000 gallons of water per month. When we have a firm figure on the project, we should make additional increases to rates and build in a small cushion for fluctuations in usage. Then all excess is to be used for early repayment. A “sunset clause” should also be added so that if no action is taken or development is discontinued on a project, we can reduce our requirements per state regulation.

Finally, we look at ways we can generate revenue from the waste. There are several marketable by-products, such as bio-gas and compost components. I’ve also recently looked into a company that partners with cities and their wastewater facilities to produce energy from sewage. This may be another viable option and a win-win scenario.

http://www.mountainislandweekly.com/new ... -newcomer/
  

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Scott L
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Re: CharMeck providing sewer services to MH residents

Postby Scott L » Thu Nov 12, 2015 9:34 am

I believe I heard of plans that Mount Holly would have some kind of ownership or partnership with a new sewer facility over the Catawba that will serve Mount Holly. As we think about this, let's use lessons learned from the partnership for the Whitewater center. How much did Mount Holly contribute to that item and what benefit did we get in return? What to look for:

1) Did Charlotte people have more negotiating skills/strategy to ensure they come out on top of any deals made with Mount Holly? Charlotte has bigger budgets and more clout to hire people that can be "better" at negotiating.
2) Did any of our negotiators sell us Mount Holly citizens out? Perhaps leaders wanted this badly enough that they would take action even if the Mount Holly citizens didn't want it.
3) Were promises made to us voters by our leaders about the Whitewater center that did not come true? It is easy to understand how our leaders could have been tricked into believing something and then promising us voters things that will never be.
4) Can we say our partnership with the Whitewater effort gave Mount Holly voters a good deal that was worth it? Or were there gotchas and issues that might be lost on unsuspecting leaders/voters if not reminded?

Right now Mount Holly has 100% of the rights to dump treated sewer into the river. Charlotte has none. What is being proposed is that we give our rights to Charlotte. In return we have to share the rights and costs of the treatment plant. Mount Holly has 14,000 residents. Charlotte has a population of 800,000. Does that mean we are trading our 100% rights for 1.75% rights? (Because Mount Holly residents are only 1.75% that of Charlotte residents.)
  

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Scott L
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Re: CharMeck providing sewer services to MH residents

Postby Scott L » Mon Nov 23, 2015 10:59 am

I would like to see how Mount Holly has performed independent analysis of the recommended solution to outsource wastewater treatment with Charlotte.

http://www.werf.org/i/Get_Involved/Requ ... 950d6b40aa

Here is a spreadsheet that can be used to estimate costs: http://www.werf.org/c/DecentralizedCost/Model.aspx

One thing I've learned in life... never trust someone's facts who is trying to sell something to you. Charlotte is trying to sell us something. Using their data is not a good idea.

Here are some sewage treatment plant project costs:
http://www.reliancebuildingcompany.com/ ... cipal.aspx

Another reference document 2007 (http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q= ... Dl-UpGH3Ug) Lots of costs for various levels of treatment. On page 18 they reference GASTONIA that has a system that costs $0.27/gallon for upgrade costs that comes to about $1.6M.

And something surprises me. We have capacity to treat 6,000,000 gallons/day of sewage. If we have 14,000 citizens, that means we have the capacity to treat 428 gallons per day for every man, woman, and child in Mount Holly. That means every family of 4 in Mount Holly would average a $376 water/sewer bill each month if we are hitting capacity. Does any family of 4 have a $376/month/person monthly water/sewer bill? (Trash not included.) That's emptying your hot water tank more than 8 times every day for every person in Mount Holly! A family of 4 would have to fill and empty a standard bathtub every 42 minutes day and night. If we're "out of capacity", I'd like to know how that is.

Where is the public discussion and data on this topic for Mount Holly? Has any details, data, or specifics been shared with the public? How are councilpersons making their decisions? (Because good citizens want to appreciate how their competent and well-intentioned councilpersons are doing their jobs.)
  

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Scott L
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Re: CharMeck providing sewer services to MH residents

Postby Scott L » Tue Nov 24, 2015 1:12 pm

Regarding the waste water treatment path forward, there are a lot of assumptions, suggestions, and strategies that we as a community need to decide. I've lived here 2.5 years and I've never seen any of the data or debate. How can it be that my elected officials are guiding my government in this town development? Or can it be that my government is guiding my elected officials toward the development?

Consider:
1) What does "need more capacity" mean? Does this mean "to support very aggressive growth ambitions, we need to build more sewer?" Who authorized our strategy and deal-making to support that magnitude of growth?
2) There are suggestions that new state requirements increase costs of new facilities. What about upgrading capabilities? Or are existing facilities grandfathered? Didn't Gastonia do that to one of its 6M gal facilities cost effectively? Or is the "new requirements" just an excuse to support a desired outcome?
3) When did our town government get authorization to strike any deals with Charlotte? Where did this get voted on and what are the voting records of the councilpersons that supported it and who didn't support it?
4) Who says building our own facility would cost $43M? Was that figure independently validated? Or did we take someone's data (like Charlotte) to come to that conclusion?
5) What capacity is a new $43M facility? Do we need something that large? Or are we again proposing capacity that far exceeds the will of the people to grow that large?
6) If/When we get into a partnership with Charlotte, how would a little 14,000 population town be able to negotiate with an 800,000 population town? (1.75% the population of Charlotte) Do we turn over our control in exchange for 1.75% of the say in how much sewer services cost?
7) The listing of entities that propose/support the Charlotte sewer partnership are very similar to the members of the Alliance for Growth. How are we people considered in this strategy -- other than the ones that will pay for it? Let's propose a strategy that says all the businesses in the Alliance for Growth will pay for the sewer facility and give us town people free sewer for life and lets see how many support this project that way!
8) How much sewer do we sell to people that don't live in our town limits? Rather than pay for a new facility, couldn't we just re-examine who gets to use our facilities without paying the property taxes that largely fund capital improvement projects? Do we really provide half of Stanley's sewer processing? (For example) Are we causing this "crisis" purposefully?

This is too important to just vote a councilperson out of office next term if/when it becomes a regrettable strategy. Real and lasting damage can be done if we fumble through this. Or said differently, Mount Holly will noticeably and irreversibly change if we keep going with this. There are organized groups telling us that we want that kind of change. But based on the feedback here and in other forums, I don't see it.
  

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Scott L
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Re: CharMeck providing sewer services to MH residents

Postby Scott L » Tue Nov 24, 2015 2:22 pm

Here's a good analogy....

You live in an HOA. For years your swimming pool was rarely used. So your HOA allowed neighbors to use it for a monthly fee.

Now the HOA thinks the pool will soon be too crowded because they want to add on to the neighborhood. The HOA can't afford adding on to the neighborhood AND building a new pool -- so they will be assessing all the home owners a monthly fee to use another neighborhood's pool in an agreement that is "forever".

You look at the pool with all the people swimming in it from outside your neighborhood. You realize you don't even know yet how much the HOA will charge you to swim in the other development's pool. And you can't figure out whose idea it was to charge you a fee to build more homes.

Now you start to pay attention and you want to know who is in charge.
  

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Scott L
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Re: CharMeck providing sewer services to MH residents

Postby Scott L » Sun Jan 10, 2016 11:07 am

In the January newsletter, Mr. Jackson says upgrading our sewer plant would cost $35 Million to renovate our plant. (viewtopic.php?f=15&p=1107#p1105)

The Mount Holly sewer plant has a capacity of 6 million gallons. Our town has stated that upgrading a 6 million gallon facility would cost $35 million. Who provided that figure and how was that figure derived?

Here's why I ask. Charlotte is upgrading their 15 million gallon facility that is 250% the size of our facility. The cost: $39 Million. (https://charlottenc.legistar.com/View.a ... 13659520D6)

Why can Charlotte upgrade their sewer facility for $2.6 Million per million gallons of sewer and Mount Holly can only do it for $5.8 Million per million gallons of sewer?

IS MOUNT HOLLY USING ARTIFICIALLY INFLATED FIGURES TO SCARE US INTO PARTNERING WITH CHARLOTTE? Where are the facts and figures to tell us how the $35 Million dollar price tag was derived? Should we just "trust" these numbers are right? Even when Charlotte seemingly has figured out a way to do it for less than HALF the cost?
  


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