‘We’re out actively searching for leaks’: Farmdale Water District confronts large water loss figures

Farmdale Water District water tower

A committee made up of Magistrates Marti Booth and Lambert Moore as well as Franklin County Judge-Executive Huston Wells recommended four different projects to be used for approximately $3.6 million in federal stimulus funds.

The recommendations voted for unanimously by the committee include: $1.5 to the City of Frankfort to cover the cost of work for a pump station that would help service the Farmdale Sanitation District; $1 million for broadband expansion in the county; a $500,000 contribution to the county’s water districts; and up to $600,000 in costs to retroactively give first responders a $2 per hour raise for work provided during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wells and county staff presented the above items to the committee, which were approved to be recommended to the Fiscal Court. The seven-member court will later vote on appropriating the funds to the recommended items.

The funds for the pump station, located at Twilight Trail, would go to the city in assisting work to upgrade the facility. That work would allow the long-struggling Farmdale Sanitation District to connect to the city sewer system, eliminating the need for six old wastewater treatment plants and direct all wastewater to a centralized pump station.

The arrangement, still being hammered out between the county and the city, would be a Kentucky Inter-System Operating Permit (KISOP). 

“The city, as part of the KISOP, had written into the agreement that the sanitation district would charge the customers over a 20-year period for the pump station,” Wells said. “That was automatically going to increase their rates. With this influx of money, I think we can eliminate that part — of their rates going up — and get this project done.”

For the proposed $1 million towards broadband, Wells said that the state would throw in matching funds to make it $2 million. He and county grants writer Ann Northcutt said that the county is currently working on a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a study to be done on the county’s broadband needs.

“I truly believe that if we don’t get this done now, we’ll never get it done,” Wells said.

The $500,000 towards water districts would go in a grant fund for the several water districts that serve Franklin County. Wells mentioned some of that money going towards addressing fire hydrant needs in the county, but wasn’t sure about whether or not they could be used toward that end.

The "premium pay" towards first responders would be distributed retroactively for qualifying employees of the fire department, the Franklin County Regional Jail and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. The proposed increase in certain salaries would be around $2 an hour for the allotted time period.

Treasurer Susan Laurenson said that with cost of benefits included, the premium pay increase would cost up to $600,000 total. 

Wells and Moore both noted that some staff had to spend several weeks at a time away from family due to their public-facing roles.

“Some people may question that $2, but some of these guys had to stay away from their families during this whole time,” Moore said.

Wells noted that the committee did not recommend spending the entire $4.9 million off the bat. His first recommendation was to use a certain amount of the remaining $1.3 million on making up for revenue losses due to the pandemic, but Laurenson said that she thought a commitment would be unwise at this point.

“We’re leaving some for COVID, too, in case something else happens with COVID,” Wells said. “But there’s about $1.3 million left.”

The county is due another round of ARPA funding of roughly the same amount in about a year from now, per Wells.

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