Greetings! As we prepare for the winter season, we should be ever thankful that although it may be easy to complain about the weather and snow and cold that comes with winter, we don’t have hurricanes and the terrible issues those people are going through with the loss of their homes and services.
I would like to welcome and introduce three new employees to our staff: Wendy Acton, Cindy Larsen-Stevens and Ben Hitt. Cindy is a part-time dispatcher in the police department and has experience as a dispatcher with Rosebud County. Wendy is a long time resident of Colstrip and joins us as a Deputy City Clerk. Ben is brand new to Colstrip and joins our Police Department as a Police Officer. Welcome Wendy, Cindy & Ben!
It has been a very busy summer for our city and it’s employees. We have successfully completed our employee/ labor negotiations and now have four-year contracts in place. Although we have been very productive in many areas, two of our major projects have not yet been completed. They are our Wastewater Treatment Rehabilitation Project and the Zone 3 Water Storage Tank Project. The Wastewater Treatment Rehabilitation Project is about 90 percent complete but due to contractor issues, the City is in the process of changing contractors. We plan on having this project completed by year end. This is $2.2 million project that was partially funded by the Montana Coal Board with a $500,000 grant.
The Zone 3 Water Storage Tank Replacement project has been delayed because of land and property ownership issues. What started out as a relatively simple process of the city receiving an easement onto an area within the Winchester Park boundaries became very complicated and time consuming with differing opinions on an easement and use of the property to place a 450,000 gallon water storage tank. It became necessary for us to seek an outside legal opinion to support the City Attorney’s opinion and to also seek the involvement of the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. The construction of this tank is now scheduled to begin in the Spring of 2019, a delay of almost two years after our first meeting with the Rosebud County Commissioners. This is a $2.3 million project. Upon its completion the residents in the Zone 3 area will see an increase in their water pressure, similar to what some other residents have seen when we combined Zones 1 and 2 east of the highway.
We have completed the budgeting process for fiscal year 2018-2019 and are looking forward to several major street projects that includes Power Road, Main Street and Homestead Boulevard. Estimated costs for these projects is $2.7 million. We will also be doing chip sealing on Pine Butte Drive and Sweetgrass Drive. Also included in the budget is the replacement of High Service Pumps at the Water Treatment Plant. This will improve service and reliability as the current pumps were originally installed almost 40 years ago. The budgeted capital costs for streets, water and sewer totals $6.7 million.
The Colstrip Community Impact Advisory Group (CCIAG) continues to move forward with many ideas on the utilization of the $10 million Puget Sound Energy Settlement Funds. The direction as of this writing appears to be headed towards the establishment of a Colstrip Community Foundation. The foundation would establish a board that would set up rules on the administration of the funds. The details remain to be worked out.
A settlement between the City of Colstrip, Avista Corporation and Hydro One remains on hold awaiting approval by Commissions in the states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho. That determination is scheduled to occur on or before December 15, 2018.