City considers Pond Doctor

Published 6:04 am Wednesday, January 28, 2004

By By JOHN DILMORE JR. Publisher
The Brewton City Council voted last night to move forward with a plan that could bring to an end long-running environmental compliance problems at the municipal waste treatment facilities on High Street.
The plan involves contracting with a North Dakota-based company called Pond Doctor, which specializes in bringing chemical balance to the ponds used by facilities which treat household waste.
Pond Doctor head Wayne Ruzicka flew in from North Dakota to address the council last night and offered them a chance to tackle the problem which appears to involve very little risk for the city.
Ruzicka will install his Pond Doctor devices in the ponds at the city's waste treatment facility, leave them there for a year, then reimburse the city for the cost of leasing the devices for that year if the council isn't satisfied with the system's effectiveness.
Leasing enough devices to treat the city's ponds would cost in the neighborhood of $20,000 per year.
Ruzicka offered to place approximately that amount in a local bank account, then turn that money over to the city in the event they aren't satisfied with his treatment system.
The city would not be reimbursed for initial installation fees, which could run from $8,000 to $10,000.
Brewton Mayor Ted Jennings said of the plan, "We've tried about everything else. If we don't correct it, we're subject to fines."
The city has periodically had problems keeping the waste treatment ponds within Alabama Department of Environmental Management compliance guidelines.
The city has not signed off on an agreement with Pond Doctor, instead opting to pursue every possible avenue for financing the system before making the deal official.
Also at last night's meeting, the council voted to approve a tax abatement request from IPEC, a business residing in the city's industrial park which manufactures plastic caps for bottled water and other beverages.
The abatement will free IPEC from paying ad valorem taxes taxes for 10 years -- a tax break which amounts to about $4,365 per year for the next decade.
It also keeps the company from paying transaction taxes on the cost of ongoing new construction there, a tax break which amounts to about $30,900 overall.
IPEC is in the process of expanding their facility by approximately 30,000 square feet, and has recently increased its workforce from 23 to 42 employees.
In other action last night, the council:
The homeowners had offered to pay the cost for extending service, and Madden told the council that cost would amount to $5,000 per lot, in a development with approximately 16 lots.
Madden said he is in the process of getting the homeowners a letter explaining the cost that will be involved.
During the month of December, the city issued 56 warnings to the owners of delapidated properties and demolished three structures that were not in compliance with city regulations.
The city started off in October trying to collect $297,269 in old fines, and through various methods has collected down to $290,597 still owed.
Following Barton and Cotten's recommendation, the council voted to leave those salaries unchanged.
Madden described the ordinance as an attempt to keep the city's aquifers from being contaminated by drilling.
Having introduced the ordinance, the council will bring it up for an official vote at its next regular meeting.
The council voted unanimously to pursue purchase of the needed vehicle, which probably won't be available for use until the fall.
Jennings assured Holmes the city would address the matter immediately.

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