The Blackfoot City Council unanimously approved pursuing 'judicial confirmation' for a new clarifier and improvements at the city's wastewater treatment plant at Tuesday's city council meeting.
A "judicial confirmation" means asking a judge to review the costs and deem it an ordinary and necessary city expense. If a judge agrees, then the city does not have to have a public vote to take on the debt.
A clarifier tank removes solids from coming into the plant from the city's sanitary sewer system and removes deposits (such as scum and oil) off the top of the water.
Blackfoot Mayor Mike Virtue said that out of a cost of about $1 million, he anticipates obtaining about $350,000 in grant money for the project.
Virtue stressed the importance of "getting the project going," saying that "not making the needed improvements will subject the city to various penalties from the DEQ and EPA."
"This is critical," he said. "If a clarifier goes down, it puts us [the City of Blackfoot] in a really bad position."
Councilman 'Skip' Gardner agreed, saying, "I have been talking with a lot of the people in charge [at the treatment plant] and we definitely need this - there's no question."
Councilman Chris Jensen said that although he isn't fond of a judicial confirmation, he agrees that the improvements are needed. "If we don't do these things, 'stuff' can hit the fan," he said.
Referring to an incident last winter when a sewer line broke in Blackfoot, flooding homes with raw sewage, Jensen added, "Just look at how much money it cost the city when the sewer line broke."
The mayor can now approach an attorney about moving forward with the projects.