Engineer Calvin Cassady of Tuscaloosa-based The Cassady Company Inc. said the project will entail upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant, pump stations and inflow and infiltration system.
The city has been approved for a $2,087,000 grant through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development division to use for the project, which has an expected total cost of $2,878,000.
The council voted to take out a loan of $791,000 for the remaining balance.
Water and sewer rates will be raised as a result of the debt, which carries a 2 percent interest over 40 years.
Cassady told the council that the minimum bill for 2,000 gallons of water a month would have to be increased by 64 cents, and the percentage of sewer rates tacked onto the bill would have to go up from the current 70 percent to 73 percent.
No rates were officially changed Tuesday night, and Cassady said loan payments would not be due until construction is finished.
Mayor Jack Scott said after the meeting that city officials had no choice but to move forward with the sewer project after years of receiving citations from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.
Scott said the current wastewater treatment plant was built in 1974 and the system cannot handle the volume of water after it rains. As a result, sewage gets dumped into the river.
Scott said he has had meetings with ADEM throughout his two-term tenure as mayor and has only been able to keep the agency at bay this long by proving that the city was making a good-faith effort by applying for sewer grants each year.
“It’s a situation of either pay now or pay later, and we’re about to get burned bad. We’re in violation. We know it. They know it,” Scott said.
Cassady said the rest of the year will be spent filing more paperwork and bidding out the project. He estimated that construction would begin in spring 2013.
Also during the meeting, the council approved a business license for Jeff and Von’s Place. The new restaurant will be operated by the former owners of The Rebel Queen, a popular local hangout that was demolished in the April 27 tornadoes.
The diner is expected to open by May 27.