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Cortland City Leaders Considering $12-$13 Million Waste Water Plant Update
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Cortland City Leaders Considering $12-$13 Million Waste Water Plant Update
Cortland City lawmakers are preparing to move forward with a multimillion dollar upgrade to the City Wastewater Treatment Plant. City officials gathered last night at the plant to discuss the project.
 
In an effort to tackle some long overdue upgrades at the sewage treatment plant, cut energy costs, and make sure the plant is ready for future development in the county; city leaders are considering an $12 to $13 million dollar improvement project.
 
The project involves revamping the primary process at the facility, while at the same time installing new equipment to harness energy that is available in the waste products.
 
The city is facing new state and federal regulations requiring that steps be taken to reduce the amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus that is being dumped into the nearby Tioughnioga River, which is part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. At the same time the city will soon begin receiving waste from the soon to be built Byrne Dairy processing plant. The plans include installing equipment to convert the Byrne Dairy waste into electricity to power the plant.
 
Portions of the current plant date back to the early 40’s and the last major upgrade was done in the 1990’s. The project includes new computerized management systems that should reduce manpower requirements at the plant; the project is also expected to reduce long-term maintenance costs.
 
City Finance Director Mack Cook says the city is looking to finance the project through the State Environmental Funding Corporation, which provides municipalities with low interest loans for projects like this.
 
Cook says the total cost will be $13 million, but because the project will cut energy usage at the plant by as much as 50% it may be eligible for up to a million dollars in state energy subsidies, recuing the cost to just under $12 million dollars. The balance would be borrowed over 25 to 30 years at an interest rate of 2% a year. The total cost to taxpayers would be about $24 million with interest tacked on.
 
Cook says despite the new borrowing, the city will not incur any additional debt, because some high cost old debt is almost paid off.
 
County Economic Development Director Gary VanGorder says he supports the city’s leadership on this project, without a viable wastewater treatment plant the county’s ability to attract large businesses, particularly agri-manufacturers like Byrne Dairy is severely hampered.
 
The City Council is expected to take its first steps toward the planned renovations at the next council meeting on May 7th, the council will be asked to hire a company to prepare the financing for the work. The city is facing a deadline, Byrne Dairy plans to be in production by January 1st, and the plant needs to be ready to accept its waste by then.
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