BETHEL — Following a workshop at Davis Park early Tuesday evening to review proposed plans for additional parking and a tour of the Bethel Waste Water Treatment Plant, selectmen voted 5-0 to build a 12-space parking lot at the popular park between Route 26 and the Androscoggin River.
The board also unanimously OK'd the treatment plant's proposed fiscal year 2010-11 budget of $411,985 after discussing whether to bag and haul dewatered sludge to Rumford's waste water treatment plant for composting.
“Realistically, Jim, what we really should be looking at is a rate increase and wages for 2½ people, because that's the only way you're going to raise money if you want to do any sort of capital improvements short of getting somebody to write grants,” Selectman Dennis Doyon told Town Manager Jim Doar.
“The rates are as high as it is,” Doar said of the $7.70 rate. “We can discuss raising them, but it will never be enough to pay for the capital improvements that we need. It's just not feasible.”
“The problem is, you've got a small plant with a finite number of users versus any plants around here that are larger plants and have a much larger customer base than this plant and, realistically, there are going to be few additional users put on this system at any given time,” Doyon said.
“Unless we expand it out to Mayville,” Chairman Stan Howe said of an East Bethel neighborhood.
“But we've still got to pay for that,” Doyon said, before someone else said that project alone would cost $2 million.
“Borrowing money is one thing, but debt service is a third of the budget, with a little bit of capital in there,” Doar said of the proposed $15,579 in capital improvement projects.
These include engineering work to replace the Vernon Street pump station at $8,000 and $7,579 for sludge handling and de-watering alternatives.
“I'm looking at trimming back the number of employees there, but there are things that have to happen down there,” Doar said. “We've got to run a treatment plant.”
During a sludge analysis, Doar said the treatment plant hauls 160,000 gallons of sludge at 0.0425 cents per gallon, which must be treated with 6,000 pounds of lime at 32 cents per pound. He said the annual cost is about $8,700 to haul sludge.
“We're looking at dewatering it,” he said, mentioning the bag system that selectmen saw at the treatment plant during the tour. “It seems to me to be the most economical way of doing it.”
“After it's dewatered, we've got to do some things with it. We've looked at hauling it — 160,000 gallons turns into about 270 tons, and with landfilling, it's $55 a ton.”
He said he then figured in the cost of a town truck and employee hauling it to the landfill in Norridgewock, which would involve 18 trips at $54.80 per trip, or $986. That cost doesn't include health insurance.
“I'm in favor of dewatering and composting,” Doar said. “We could give the compost away when it's ready, we can spread it on the town farm sludge site, or we can put it in the reed beds, and if we do that, we don't have to treat it with the lime so that our calcium levels aren't up.”
Doar also discussed costs for composting the sludge until Doyon suggested bagging and hauling it to Rumford's plant and pay them to compost with their dewatered sludge.
“That's going to be your cheapest, easiest, best way,” Doyon said. “Let them compost it. They're good at it, they've got the buildings for it, and they've got all the equipment for it. That's going to be your most cost effective way to do this, because composting is not easy.”
Doar agreed to check with Rumford, and then the board OK'd the proposed budget, which is $6,980 less than last year's budget of $418,965.