Mad River Union
McKINLEYVILLE – Building a new teen center, buying property for a new water tank, removing sludge from a sewer pond and planning for a major sewer system upgrade are among the big-ticket items in the services district’s new budget for the coming fiscal year.
The McKinleyville Community Services District Board of Directors unanimously approved the nearly $7 million budget at its meeting last Wednesday, June 4. The document predicts the MCSD will operate in the black, with growing reserve funds in the sewer and water departments. The budget has a predicted surplus of more than $300,000 for both of those department.
This is a turnaround for the water department, which operated the past three years with deficits because customers were not being charged enough to cover the true costs of providing water. Rate increases approved early this year are on track to cover the expenses and build up healthy reserves.
Because McKinleyville is unincorporated, the MCSD serves as the de facto city government, providing sewer, water, streetlights, parks and recreation to the community of more than 15,000 residents. The MCSD also owns the McKinleyville Library and Sheriff’s Office buildings, which are staffed by the County of Humboldt. The MCSD has 25 full-time and 67 part-time employees.
The fiscal year 2014/2015 budget includes funding for day-to-day operations of the district, as well as special projects.
Teen & Community Center
Among the biggest projects in the budget is the construction of a Teen & Community Center at Pierson Park. The design, now 90 percent complete, includes a sound-proof music room, a large room with pool tables and games, a teen cafe, a covered outdoor performance area, and a commercial kitchen where classes can be held. The 6,000-square-foot, $1.8 million center will be built on to the west side of the McKinleyville Activity Center at Pierson Park.
Work is scheduled to begin this summer. The project is funded through Measure B, a voter-approved property tax assessment.
Covered picnic area
Although a project to build a covered picnic area at Pierson Park is already underway, much of the expense of the $75,000 project will be paid for in the coming fiscal year.
The project will be paid for with developer fees and grant funds. The construction work is being done by MCSD staff and should be complete by the end of summer.
Mad River park
The district plans to spend about $18,000 to improve parking and access to park property the MCSD owns along the Mad River south of the intersection of North Bank Road and Azalea Avenue.
Water tank projects
The largest Water Department project is the recoating of the MCSD’s water tank on Cochran Road, dubbed Cochran Tank 1B. About every 10 years, the district re-coats the tanks to avoid corrosion and maintain structural integrity. The project is expected to cost about $350,000.
The district also has long-range plans to build another five-million-gallon water tank to provide additional storage in the event of an emergency. The district has budgeted $200,000 in the coming fiscal year to pay for buying land for the tank site.
The MCSD is pursuing a $13 million project to upgrade its sewer treatment plant. However, construction on this project isn’t expected to begin until 2015. But in the coming fiscal year, the MCSD will remove accumulated sludge from its sewer ponds in preparation for the update.
An 11-acre sewer pond located at the south end of the sewer plant at Hiller Park will be drained. Its sludge will be hauled away, providing needed real estate for the new sewer plant. The sludge removal will cost about $900,000.
The budget also includes numerous other expenses, including ongoing upgrades to meters, manholes, mowers and district vehicles.