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Poulsbo sets sights on future of its infrastructure

POULSBO -- Poulsbo's City Council took the first step toward gaining sustainable long term infrastructure funding Wednesday night. It was a move of foresight Poulsbo Public Works director Jeff Bauman said is needed to make some major upcoming projects possible.

The rub is this: though utility fees currently generate enough money for operation, as Poulsbo ripens to a wizened Century City, its infrastructure continues to age. So when it comes to the flotsam this 100-year-old town's got to jettison, or the resources it'd like to conserve, a little planning is in order.

Thus, finance assessments for sewers, storm water, streets, solid waste and water will eventually be under way. The city council unanimously approved the first leg of the job, for the sewer facet of the city's infrastructure.

"The purpose of the financial plan is to make sure that we've got finances lined up for the next six years," Bauman said.

The need for such strategic planning first arose during the budget process last year, as Bauman displayed the department's lack of major project funding for the future.

He said the city also has a tentative 20-year timeline forecasting updates and other projects that could be required for each facet of infrastructure. But within the next six years, as laid out by the city's capital improvement planning, the sewer system projects could include a reduction in inflow and infiltration, pump station upgrades, pipe replacements and constructing the Bond Road force main as a substitute for the Liberty Bay main, which has leaked in the past. The Liberty Bay force main won't be abandoned, either, as the city plans to improve it and keep it on hand in case the new Bond Road main needs an alternate.

The Public Works committee and city council will see similar studies as the one approved Wednesday proposed for the four other aspects of infrastructure. The sewer financial assessment will be done by Parametrix, the Bremerton-based company already contracted to work on comprehensive sewer planning for the city. The added finance study will be done to the tune of $25,771. Of that, Bauman said $15,000 is already built into the budget.

Councilman Jeff McGinty suggested the Public Works committee also review the possibility of adding a portion to the study related to public information, so that utility bill payers can see how their money is being spent.

The comprehensive sewer plan itself will identify the capital projects needed, as well as operation costs and revenue needs. Without Wednesday night's amendment, it would not have specified a financial plan to fund those operations and improvements. The recommended financial plan will be incorporated into the final comprehensive sewer plan, according to the city's contract with Parametrix.

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