The One Million Dollar Question: How to Buy New Sewers

Cathy Salustri


  Don Sopak warned council that the city’s sewers needed replacing, and Tuesday night the city heard about one of two possible programs that would help Gulfport finance what city staff calls much-needed repairs. Mr. Sopak, the city’s public works director, presented a plan for the city in the summer of 2011. That plan, a state revolving fund, allowed the city to borrow up to $1-million and repay the loan over five years at 2.35%. Council initially agreed to borrow the money but reversed their decision in October 2011.

  Tuesday night, ConEdison Solutions presented one solution. This program allows the city to borrow the money over up to 20 years. ConEd representatives told Gulfport the city would save money annually with the sewer improvements but if it did not, ConEd would pay the difference. For example, if ConEd projects the city would save $200,000 a year from the improvements but only saved $100,000, ConEd would have to write the city a check for $100,000.

  This is one of two programs the city is considering to fund sanitary sewer repairs.

  “What we’re talking about today is one mechanism to fund those improvements,” City Manager Jim O’Reilly explained to council, but added the city had yet to determine all the improvements needed.

  “This is just one option we’d like you to hear about,” he said. At the December 17 meeting the city will hear about the state revolving loan program once again.