Kootenai proposes bond for wastewater project

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HARRISON - Kootenai School District voters will consider a $2 million bond levy on Tuesday for a wastewater treatment project.

A supermajority (two-thirds) is needed for the proposal to pass.

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality has mandated that the district make system improvements because the current lagoon lacks a liner to prevent seepage.

With the bond, the district would buy land for a new lagoon and meet land application requirements for treated effluent.

"In the spring of 2008 and 2011, the lagoon was overtopping and had to be pumped to prevent overspill," a district newsletter states. "The lagoon is also in close proximity to the school. The fact that the lagoon has the potential to overflow in its existing condition presents a threat to a local stream, which in turn presents a threat to the lake (Black Lake) it drains into."

Even if the levy passes, taxes in the district will slightly decrease due to the Kootenai High School bond that is expiring this year.

To pay for the bond, the owner of a $100,000 home, less the homeowners exemption, would pay about $22.50 per year for 10 years. The owner of a $200,000 home would pay an estimated $52.21 per year.

The lagoon the district currently uses was constructed in 1977. The storage capacity is undersized for the permitted facility and the chlorine system does not consistently meet disinfection requirements, district officials said.

Officials say now is a best time to seek the bond since interest rates are at a historical low and construction costs are down. The district anticipates locking in a 2.51 percent interest rate.

They said it's also a good time with the expiring high school bond and the IDEQ mandate.

Under a compliance agreement between the district and state, the district has been operating without a valid permit since 2008. The contract states that improvements must be made by Jan. 1, 2016. Failure to meet the mandate may result in penalties or fees.

Idaho is one of the few states that does give funding support for building schools and renovations. School districts are expected to finance such projects with general obligation bonds or plant facility levies authorized by local voters.

The bond funds can't be used for salaries or operating expenses.

The polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Arrow Point fire station (Precinct 67), Medicine Mountain Grange (68), Harrison Senior Center (70) and St. Maries Presbyterian Church foyer (Center Precinct).

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