TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Some Terre Haute city council members are working with the mayor to keep costs down on a federally mandated project to upgrade the city sewer system.
Terre Haute, like many communities, must make improvements to it's water system to prevent waste from flowing into area waterways.
According to Mayor Duke Bennett, work is already a few months behind schedule to begin the second phase of the water pollution control project.
The administration and city council have squabbled over the price tag before. Last year, the mayor requested a $70 million bond for the project but he withdrew the request when the council raised concerns.
Now, the mayor is including some city council members on a committee so they can work together to keep costs down.
Mayor Bennett says, "At least the three councilman that have been a part of this, they've been there all along and they kind of see, okay I understand why you need to do that and can ask questions and so that's kind of where we're at."
The latest estimate puts construction costs around $55 million. It could cost an estimated $7 million for planning and design.
The Sanitary District board approved a $20 million bond for planning and design last week. That portion of the project will be paid for through sewer rates.
City Councilman Karrum Nasser is not part of the committee discussing the overall project but says he gives the mayor credit for including his peers. He says the committee has found some savings but he thinks the total cost is still too high.
Councilman Nasser says, "I think that's a lot better than what it was originally at. I think there's still some opportunities. There's still going to be a meeting to see if they can find some other savings because at the end of the day, you know, we do need to do the next phase of a long term control plan but it is our responsibility as the fiscal body to protect the taxpayers and the rate payers that they don't have to pay anymore than they have to."
The mayor says he can go to market for bids when the design is complete and to the council for bond approval.
Mayor Bennett says, "They're kind of up against it when it comes to this because we have no choice. We have to do it. We have the funds. We've already got approval from the state for the money so all of the things are in place accept the city council wants to wait to see what the final amount is and I'm perfectly fine with that."
The mayor says he expects to go to the board on this matter in September or October. He says he is also confident sewer rates will not need to be increased for this phase of the project.
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