Wed, July 17

Jerome weighs hookup fee increases
More money needed for infrastructure upgrades

The cost of hooking up a new home or business to Jerome's water and sewer systems might soon double.

Infrastructure in Jerome needs improvement, and the town council is looking at amending ordinance 315 to help pay for upgrades. During Tuesday night's regular council meeting, fee increases were proposed. If the proposed increases become law, water hookups will increase from $5,000 to $10,000; sewer hookups, from $5,500 to $11,000.

Mayor Jane Moore told the council that some major upgrades are needed for the sewer system, which went on line about three years ago.

"We can list a lot of things that would justify increasing hookup rates," she said.

Council member John Scarcella said the sewer system needs at least $100,000 spent on it. He said the suggested fee increases would take two to three years to pay for that amount.

"We definitely should increase our hookup fees," Scarcella said. "The sooner the better."

During a recent council meeting, members were informed that state officials have told Jerome to take action soon on problems with the sewage treatment plant.

In a follow-up report of its April 29 inspection of the plant, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality recommended that the council act quickly to correct problems, including capacity and influent grease.

At that meeting, Moore said the treatment plant, which was built in 2002, has a capacity of 70,000 gallons per day. She also said that the town was told that when capacity reaches 50,000 to 55,000 gallons a day, additional capacity should be considered.

Moore said the plant is now operating near that level and there are times when the plant is operating beyond its design capacity.

Scarcella, who serves as sewer commissioner, told the council during that meeting that during heavy rains this past winter the plant's inflow hit 85,000 gallons a day. He said he thinks the ADEQ's formula for figuring plant capacity was based on inflow at 75 percent of capacity during the annual dry weather period. The situation might not be critical, Scarcella said.

The dry weather average inflow in March was 47,000 gallons and 46,000 gallons in April. He said the system is quite a ways from its 70,000-gallon capacity.

At that meeting, the council decided against a proposed moratorium on new sewer hookups.

No action was taken Tuesday night, but direction was given to staff to research costs for storage tanks and upgraded waterlines.