Benton council still considering septic tank hauler prohibitions

Benton City Council members on Monday night heard the second reading of an ordinance that would prohibit the discharge of residential and industrial waste from commercial haulers into the wastewater treatment plant.
Efforts to present the ordinance on both its second and third readings were not successful Monday night.
The ordinance is scheduled for the final reading at the next council meeting. At that time, the council members will take an actual vote on the document.
According to Terry McKinney, general manager of Benton Utilities, and representatives of the Public Utilities Commission, the city is risking damage to its wastewater treatment plant by accepting waste from septic tank haulers.
The ordinance states that The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality as well as the Environmental Protection Agency routinely inspect the city facility and the treated discharge. It notes that these agencies have legislative power to fine the city for illicit discharge form the facility or any other wastewater structure within the city.
McKinney has asked the council to stop the potential damage from illicit discharge into the system and the potential hazard that could occur to residents of Benton as well as the potential fines associated with such a practice.
McKinney says the commercial haulers have other options available to them in outlying cities.
He has pointed out that Benton Utilities recently added half a million dollars in improved facilities that could be damaged by incorrect usage.
In the council's agenda meeting, some of the aldermen expressed concerns about the customers of these operations as well as the operators themselves.
Several haulers previously have attended council meetings to protest such action which, they say, will effectively put them out of business.
One noted that the city will create a health hazard by not allowing disposal from the tanks, many of which are located on property in outlying areas of Benton.
In other matters, the council approved an ordinance establishing the maturity schedule for the city's hotel and restaurant gross recipes tax bonds and confirmed the sale of the bonds.
Karen Scott, the city's chief financial officer, informed the aldermen that the "response to the bond sale was favorable."
"All of the bonds sold by 11 a.m.," she said.
She announced that the bond closing will take place at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 14, at Stephens Inc. in Little Rock, the underwriting firm.
The bonds are for the principal amount of $7.815 million
The events center project is being financed through a bond issue backed by the city's 1.5 percent Advertising and Promotion Commission tax that is applied to motels, hotels, restaurants and related businesses.
A private business will own and operate the hotel.
The council also approved an ordinance noting that the Benton Public Utilities Commission will provide utility service to the Benton Events Center hotel complex.
The ordinance notes that the Arkansas Supreme Court has found that a city may construct improvements on real property where there is a public benefit to the improvements.
The ordinance notes that Public Utilities Commission has agreed to spend up to $165,000 on the project, which will lower the cost of construction and provide an incentive for further development of the property by a hotel.
In another matter, the council approved a resolution authorizing a grant application to the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.
Also approved was an ordinance waiving competitive bidding and authorization of the purchase of all labor and materials to remove sludge and solids form the oxidation ditch at Benton Utilities wastewater treatment plant.