Cassville bond issue narrowly passes

Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Kenny Burton, accompanied by Dolores Burton (not pictured), feeds his ballot into the counter after voting in the Cassville Municipal Election Tuesday. The Cassville mayoral race and $11 million water and sewer bond issue for the city were the top two issues on the ballot. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com

59 percent vote in favor of measure needing 57 percent to pass

An $11 million bond request from the city of Cassville was barely approved by the city's voters in Tuesday's Municipal election, coming in 2 percentage points ahead of the 57 percent mark needed for passage.

In the final hour, 187 votes, or 59.55 percent, were in favor of the bond request, and 127 votes, or 40.45 percent, were in opposition.

Cassville City Administrator and previous Public Works Director Steve Walensky, who has been heading up the project, was thrilled with the results.

"I'm very happy," he said. "It's a very exciting time for our community, and I'm pretty excited about the opportunity to get to move forward with this project. I'm just very pleased, and looking forward to working with the honorable Mayor Shiveley and city council on the future plans for our community. Tonight its a clear statement that our community was in favor of development and progression, and I couldn't be happier."

The bond money, which the city will only use on an as-needed basis, aims to fund two massive, long-term projects to repair and replace the city's aging water and sewer lines, which have caused problematic issues with the city's infrastructure.

The first project involves a proposed $5.4 million plan to fix the sewer system by reducing the amount of water being processed by the city's wastewater treatment plant. The next project involves a $4.89 million proposal that would seek to replace more than 21 miles of water pipes.

Engineering firm Olsson and Associates proposed improvements that include pipe and joint pressure testing and grouting, lateral connection pressure testing and grouting, manhole rehabilitation and pipe machine testing, where joints could be sealed. Work would include some open-cut projects, cleaning and CCTV use inside the pipes, butting protruding tape and gaskets, curing pipes and private inflow and infiltration abatement. Projected costs include:

• $2.7 million on open-cut and trenchless repairs (trenchless repairs include grouting and other approaches that avoid digging to any pipes)

• $150,000 on cleaning and CCTV use

• $1.5 million on private inflow and infiltration abatement

• $1.05 million on non-construction and contingency costs

The trenchless repairs, which garner most of the $2.7 million projection, would have a 50-year design life. Work would also result in some savings at the treatment plant, as it would be pumping less, therefore, using less electricity.

The city has 93,000 linear feet of pipes that need attention, which accounts for about 52 percent of its 180,000-linear-foot total. There are 18 open-cut areas, which would include the excavation of certain areas and total replacement of pipes. Most of these areas are in downtown Cassville.

That water line project, proposed after a study by Schultz Surveying and Engineering of Branson, aims to replace half of the city’s 43 miles of water pipes to cut the water loss figures.

Walensky's next steps and biggest goal, he said, is communication.

"The one thing I want to do [first] is create a good communication plan that effectively explains our strategy to make sure the citizens understand what we're doing, know what's happening and to establish positive connections and goodwill with the community," he said. "That's my top priority. We're trying to do the right thing and in the right way."

Walensky said he's has been diligently working in four strategic areas — water, sewer, transportation and storm water — as a city employee for the last six years and has the city's and the citizens' best interests at heart.

Street repairs will continue, but carefully and strategically in consideration of the water and sewer work to now be done.

"The way this dovetails together is intricate, but we have our eyes wide open," Walensky said. "We'll make the repairs in the right sequence. I have asked crews to pay attention to what we need to repair so we're not tearing up a brand new street. A perfect example is 11th Street. We know that that sewer line to be replaced, but it is a high volume street. So we don't want to repave it, then tear it up until we get the sewer line replaced first."

Walensky also shared that the voices of those who voted against the bond issue are just as important to him as those who voted it in.

"Those who didn't vote in favor of it are just as important to me," he said. "Those are the people I want to reach. I want them to have a voice, too. We as a community are a fabric so that we can all move together. Not everyone will agree, but I want everyone's input because, collectively, we are all smarter and we all rise with the tide. I will work with citizens any way I can. I want to make sure the community gets a chance to ask questions, and get everybody on board so they can understand that we [at the city] are transparent, and we do the right thing to help our community."

Walensky praised work on the city's projects by Mayor Bill Shiveley, who was elected to his third full term on Tuesday.

"I can't say enough about his honesty, integrity and his intelligence," Walensky said. "The opportunity to work with such a committed individual to our community is very inspiring to me, and makes me want to work harder, smarter and present as many ideas to the mayor and city council as I can. We are very blessed to have him. His integrity is beyond reproach. He is the ultimate, committed mayor to our community."

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