Bloomfield council may OK utility ordinance

Bloomfield needs to generate revenue to help pay for improvements at the water and wastewater treatment plants

Hannah Grover

FARMINGTON — During its meeting Monday, the Bloomfield City Council may approve a utility ordinance that will include a monthly fee for water and wastewater accounts.

City of Bloomfield Water Reclamation Facility Operations Foreman Dave Sonnenberg points out calcium leaching from a settling tank at the wastewater treatment plant Sept. 12 in Bloomfield.

If approved, the new rate schedule will go into effect starting in February, according to the agenda packet.

The $2.50 monthly fee will go into a city account restricted to funding capital projects and equipment purchases for the utility systems or to pay down the existing debt on the utilities.

City Manager Eric Strahl said the new fee is important because it will help pay for needed improvements. The city has been using revenue from the systems to pay for improvements, he said.

"Basically, the city's been draining money from regular operations for capital projects," Strahl said.

The city has three main capital projects planned for the water and wastewater systems. Those include a study that is underway to determine if riverbed filtration wells could provide a secondary water source, and projects at both the water and wastewater treatment plant. The city estimates those three projects will cost about $23.6 million. 

City of Bloomfield Water Reclamation Facility Operations Foreman Dave Sonnenberg talks about repairs needed on the wastewater treatment plant's settling tanks on Sept. 12.

The infrastructure, especially at the wastewater treatment plant, is old and may fail in the future if the city does not pay for improvements, Strahl said, adding that if the plant fails, "the city and the residents are really going to have a problem."

Strahl said the city is still assessing the possible options for the wastewater treatment plant.

The monthly capital replacement charge is not unique to Bloomfield. Both Aztec and Farmington currently have a fee built into their bills to raise money for repairs or replacement of infrastructure.

The Daily Times has reported Aztec charges a $2.50 flat rate each month, and Farmington has a charge of $9.60 for water and $7.65 for sewer.

Bloomfield's utility ordinance would also increase the size of deposits required from customers and the cost of setting up a new account.

The city estimates the ordinance will generate about $91,620 annually. The money could be used to maintain and improve the water and wastewater infrastructure, according to city officials.

The council will meet at 6 p.m. Monday in the council chambers at Bloomfield City Hall at 915 N. First St.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.