– Kudos to Nisqually Valley News (NVN) reporter Andrew Kollar for taking-on the Public Works issue:
“Yelm Water Reclamation Facility Back Running”
“Down Six Weeks: Deferred Maintenance to Blame for High Ammonia Levels”
“After six weeks of frustration, wading through wastewater and hard work done by the Yelm Water Reclamation Facility staff and public officials, the facility is now able to distribute reclaimed water to its customers as of Wednesday [July 26].”
* What This Meant for Customers
* How the Facility Works
* What Went Wrong
* The Reason Behind the Deferred Maintenance
“Since the facility was built, required upgrades have not been made along the way partly in an effort to cut spending and partly because the facility was run by consultants instead of a treatment plant manager with expertise in maintaining the facility.
The city now has multiple problems to fix at one time. Cost was the leading factor behind the lack of maintenance, said Yelm Mayor JW Foster. He cited the deferment of maintenance was an easy way for the previous city government to cut spending during the recession of 2008.”
* Immediate Phase One Improvement Plan
* Expected Cost
Time and time again, then-councilor Foster voted to defer maintenance costs on Public Works projects and rarely asked any questions about the long-term effects of doing such. Current estimated expenses are greatly increased than if done properly years ago. Deferring maintenance after the 2008 economic downturn was one way former Mayor Ron Harding kept from raising taxes prior to his 2009 re-election, and then again in 2013. And Harding’s councilors were complicit by their silence and their votes. Employee morale issues and spending cuts to departments’ staffing led to city hall employees unionizing. Deferred maintenance costs have led to a projected $15-$24 million expense to modernize Public Works. Newly elected councilors in 2015 Molly Carmody, Tad Stillwell, and Joe DePinto have all raised this issue, and Councilor Carmody recently expressed her frustration at a Council Study Session this has not been communicated with the public. All of this is now set against a framework with the budget process set to begin and the Finance Director is leaving.
Now these decisions lay at Foster’s feet!
Though someone has to say them…
This city can not solve the Public Works issues by employing the same mindset that created the problems to begin with!]