The city of New Albany continues to move forward with several large-scale projects, including a new wastewater treatment plant and a $13.5 million bond issue.
The bond issue, which will be paid back over 25 years at 2.9 percent interest, will pay for several projects. The bonds will primarily be paid back with electric system revenue. No electrical system rate increase is needed at this time to pay back the bonds, said New Albany Light, Gas and Water General Manager Bill Mattox.
The bonds will pay for the renovation of the former Fred’s building and the WIC building, which have both been purchased with electric system funds. The Fred’s building was purchased for $600,000, and the WIC building was purchased for $289,000.
New Albany Light, Gas and Water and the police department will move into the Fred’s building while the WIC building will be the future home of municipal court. The city will lease the space for the police department and municipal court from New Albany Light, Gas and Water. The lease payments will also help pay off the bonds.
It is estimated that about $3 million from the bond issue will go toward renovating the two buildings, which should be ready for occupancy sometime in 2021.
The bonds will also pay for an approximately $9 million city electric system project, which includes constructing a new electrical substation, installing automated meters and upgrading circuits. The current substation is located near New Albany High School on Tennessee Valley Authority property. It is the city’s oldest substation with transformers dating back to the 1960s.
The new substation should help the reliability of the electric system, resulting in smaller and less frequent power outages, Mattox said. Five acres were purchased on Highway 348 for the new substation.
Construction on the approximately $15 million wastewater treatment plant has started north of town in a rural area on the west side of State Highway 15. The plant is being paid for with a 35-year USDA loan of about $9.3 million and grant of around $6 million. The loan will be repaid with sewer rates, which went up 25 percent last year to cover the cost of the debt.
Phase 1 of the wastewater treatment plant project is nearly complete and has involved installing a pressure line from the existing plant to the new site. A pump station was also built at the existing sewer plant site as part of Phase 1. Sewage will still be collected at the existing plant site and pumped through the pressure line to the new plant.
The new plant will be in a more suitable location than the current one, said Mattox. The current wastewater treatment plant is near the tennis and soccer complex and in proximity to residential and commercial development. Over the years, the city has built up around the sewer plant, Mattox noted.
The current sewer plant is about 25 years old, which is the length of time the facility was designed to last, he said. About 30 acres of land where the sewer plant is currently located can be freed up for other uses once the new plant is built. Most of the sewer lagoons at the current plant will be closed, but one will remain in place for emergency storage.
Approximately 90 acres were purchased for the new plant, but the plant itself will only take up about 30 acres. The rest of the land will be used as a cushion area around the plant and for possible future plant expansion.
KAJACS Contractors of Poplar Bluff, Mo. is constructing the new wastewater treatment plant. Work on the plant started around the first of April.
“Despite the rain, they’ve really made good progress out there,” Mattox said.
At this point, the wastewater treatment plant project is expected to be done by about this time next year. The gravity sewer line that can be seen in the Tallahatchie River from West Bankhead Street will also be removed. This will improve the aesthetics of the river and make the sewer system work more efficiently.