SPUC could decide to waive Lions Park splash pad fees Monday

The battle for a splash pad at Lions Park in Shakopee isn’t over yet, and from the looks of Shakopee Public Utilities Commission’s Monday meeting agenda, there’s a chance the commission could waive the $211,000 water connection fee for the splash pad after all.

SPUC has been a hot topic in Shakopee in recent weeks thanks to the $211,000 fee in question. In May, the Shakopee City Council approved the splash pad, of which the play features, water system, labor and construction materials would all be donated by the Lions Club and Shakopee native Greg Stok’s employer, Landscape Structures.

Grand total, the city was expecting to pay approximately $3,000 a year for water usage at the splash pad, until SPUC quoted the city $211,000 for the water connection fee.

At its June 17 meeting, SPUC ended up tabling a request from the Lions Club to alleviate the burden of the fee. With a meeting scheduled for Monday, SPUC’s agenda includes a discussion about the splash pad and related fees, with three options listed for the commissioners to consider:

Option 1: Continue working with project representatives regarding engineering alternatives to reduce the capacity and demand of the splash pad. This comes with time constraints, though, and if a decision isn’t made soon about the splash pad, it could end up being installed in the city of Delano.

Option 2: Approve a resolution that’s been drafted to waive the $211,000 fee and subtract those dollars from the annual transfer of funds from SPU to the city of Shakopee. This would be considered a donation to the community, according to the agenda, with the caveat that the money would be coming from budgeted city funds.

Option 3: To approve the resolution waiving the fee, but without the $211,000 being subtracted from the transfer fee to the city. This would also be considered a donation.

In the memo from SPU Manager John Crooks to the commissioners, he also wrote: “There is no doubt SPU supports this great project.”

Crooks also mentions in the memo that SPUC agreed in 2005 to donate nearly $214,000 for costs incurred for the Huber Park project. In other words, waiving the fee under special circumstances would not be a first for the commission.

In the midst of community members reacting to the splash pad debacle — along with a number of other questions raised in a recent letter sent to SPUC by City Administrator Bill Reynolds — the utility has reached out on its website in an effort to educate residents about how it spends its money.

Just Thursday afternoon, Crooks posted a list of project costs relating to “just one water infrastructure project needed to serve a portion of the planned development in SW Shakopee.” Interestingly, the construction of a water treatment plant is included in the list, slated for 2022 at a cost of $5.4 million.

Some of you may recall Reynolds raising questions in his letter about two water treatment plants that were the motivating factor behind a quadruple trunk water charge hike approved in 2003. Reynolds said in his letter he couldn’t even locate the treatment plants in SPUC’s five-year capital improvement plan, which would be concerning considering SPUC justified that fee increase 16 years ago just to build the nonexistent plants.

According to his post on the home page of www.spucweb.com, Crooks says the water treatment plant is just one of many future costs approved as part of the 2019 SPU budget. I was unable to locate an approved copy of that budget before publishing this, but based on what Reynolds and Crooks are each saying, there seem to be some inconsistencies here.

Reynolds says he couldn’t find records of plans for water treatment plants, yet Crooks says the plan for at least one is included in the 2019 budget. When I looked through the most recently-approved version of SPUC’s five-year capital improvement plan, I was only able to find this:

According to SPUC’s own CIP, the water treatment plant slated for four years down the road is “not currently needed” and is acting as a placeholder just in case? So, what’s the truth? Do we need the water treatment plants or not? If SPUC deemed two of them necessary in the near future literally half my lifetime ago (16 years, you do the math), you’d think they’d be necessary by now. But we wouldn’t know for sure because we are getting conflicting information.

Here is Crooks’s post in its entirety, for the curious:

There has been public discussion regarding the WCC (water connection charge) SPU imposes on new development. The following are costs* for just one water infrastructure project needed to serve a portion of the planned development in SW Shakopee: *From 2019 approved SPU budget

2018-2019 Windermere Booster Station: $3,671,854

2019 Land Acquisition for Project Site: $600,000

2020 Construction of Water Tower: $2,692,800

2020-21 Construction of Water Supply Well: $573,040

2021-22 Construction of Pumphouse: $1,336,900

2021-22 Construction of 2nd Water Supply Well: $569,600

2022 Construction of Treatment Plant-Iron/Manganese Removal: $5,440,800

Total: $14,884,991

Once again, new development pays the costs of water system expansion and not existing residential, commercial or industrial customers. Also, these infrastructure costs do not impact water rates for any SPU customer.

So, what do you think? What should happen Monday?

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