Wheaton seeks bond approval

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wheaton city officials will host two public meetings to discuss the $1,136,258 bond issue that has been placed on the April 7 ballot. If approved. the issue will provide funding for much needed upgrades to the city's aging water system.

Wheaton residents are encouraged to attend one of the two meetings. The first meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 9 and the second will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 27. Both gatherings will be held in Wheaton School's career and tech center.

Water upgrades that would be completed if the bond issue passes include construction of a 100,000-gallon standpipe that would double the city's current water storage capacity of 95,000 gallons. The city is currently served by a 75,000-gallon water tower and a 20,000-gallon water tower.

A fourth of the city's 45,000 feet of water line would also be replaced. According to Tom Moore, project engineer with Tri-State Engineering in Joplin who designed the proposed project, 11,000 feet of smaller-sized water line would be replaced with six-inch lines.

"The lines to be replaced are located at various places throughout the city," said Moore. "Right now the city is experiencing a lot of leakage problems with its lines."

Another aspect of the project calls for an aeration unit and a chlorination unit to be added to the larger water tower in an effort to address odor and residue in the water.

Once completed, the project will improve water pressure, remove odor and iron residual from the water supply and increase fire protection capabilities with the addition of 12 new fire hydrants.

City officials remind residents that the bond issue proposed by the city does not involve a tax hike. By approving the bond issue, voters will be giving the city permission to sell bonds to provide financing for the water improvement projects. The bonds will be paid back through an increase in water rates.

The city is proposing to raise rates from $11 for the first 1,500 gallons of water used to $18 for the first 1,500 gallons. The cost of water for every 1,000 gallons over the first 1,500 would remain at $2.50 per 1,000 gallons.

According to city officials, the new base rate will generate approximately 24 cents more a day per water customer, which will provide the city with the money it needs to repay the loans and fund a replacement account for emergency and general maintenance.

The March 9 and March 27 meetings are open to the public. Citizens will be given the opportunity to ask questions about the proposed project. For more information, call Wheaton City Hall at 417-652-3314.

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