S.I. Town Council talks waste managment, project spending at special meeting

  • Monday, December 16, 2013

Sullivan's Island Town Council discussed wastewater treatment proposals and capital project spending at a special meeting Friday at town hall.

The town's ongoing discussion of how to manage its wastewater revolves around the decision of whether to continue utilizing its own wastewater treatment facility or contract the job to Mount Pleasant Waterworks.

Mount Pleasant recently presented an initial proposal to Sullivan's Island of roughly $11 million to treat the wastewater for the next four years. The figure is estimated from a combination of impact fees and capital course. Sullivan's Island estimates the closing of its own wastewater treatment plant would save the town roughly $3.6 million over the next four years in operation and treatment costs.

“I don't believe Mount Pleasant can get where we need to be, once you start seeing the numbers,” Sullivan's Island Mayor Mike Perkis said. “I think we've got to go back to them and at least give them the option to try to come up with a way to make it economically beneficial for our residents.”

The actual cost to Sullivan's Island could be potentially higher when figuring in an estimated treatment cost charged by Mount Pleasant. Sullivan's Island projects the cost at $1 per thousand gallons. Based on an eight-year average, Sullivan's Island is producing more than 500,000 gallons of wastewater per day. Perkis says all the figures estimated by Sullivan's Island are figured conservatively but considered appropriately.

Mount Pleasant also has some concern about the additional flow that would be received from Sullivan's Island during its high peak months, which fall in line with the same peak months for its own flow already received.

“Clearly, it doesn't make economical sense,” Perkis said. “That doesn't mean we should walk away from it. I've always felt, you don't know what the bottom line is until you ask them.”

The ongoing discussions between Sullivan's Island and Mount Pleasant will continue as the two try to find a manageable compromise before settling on the most appropriate course of action. But at least one councilman expressed his hopes for a decision to be reached in the near future.

“I'd like us to put this to bed as soon as we can,” Councilman Pat O'Neil said. “If we tear down our plant, we're at their mercy. What are we going to say? ‘We'll take our business elsewhere?'”

Town council also discussed estimated timelines, cost and funding of capital projects Friday.

Construction of a new town hall and the anticipated replacement of the fire department's ladder truck and engines, led conversations. The projects will likely be funded by the sale of town-owned property and general obligation bonds.

Town council first must obtain the bonds and still has to decide how much land to sell versus how much of the bond money to use for the projects. Tuesday, town council will vote on a bond ordinance of $3.9 million, although the number can still be adjusted.

“We may want to go to the bond market as soon as possible because of changes in interest rates, as opposed to taking a slower approach and waiting,” mayor pro-term Jerry Kaynard said. “Those things are part of consideration of the council and what our prudent course is and what our advisors are telling us we should do as far as going through the bond market.”

Tuesday's Sullivan's Island Town Council meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at Town Hall.

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