The town of Hallsville, Missouri, is considering selling its sewer system in an effort to maintain the system.
On the Nov. 5 ballot, residents will be able to vote whether the city should sell the system. The vote needs a simple majority to pass.
Four companies are currently looking at buying the system, including Missouri American Water, the Boone County Regional Sewer District, Liberty Utilities and Central State Water Resources.
Hallsville City Administrator Kenyetta Ridgway-Sample said Hallsville first started considering selling the sewer system when Missouri American Water reached out to the town.
“It was a vote by the board of aldermen, and they voted to put it on the November 5 ballot,” she said.
The city sent out a request for proposals after Missouri American Water reached out.
Ridgway-Sample said the current rates of $19.35 for the first 1,000 gallons and $5 for every additional 1,000 gallons.
“In 2013 the city did a $1.6 million improvement project, and the rates do not generate enough revenue for us to maintain the sewer,” she said.
Hallsville spent $1,276,234 on the sewer system and brought in $1,376,719 over the past five years. A 2018 report shows the sewer utility is more than $1.3 million in debt that will be paid off by 2033.
Ridgway-Sample said the sewer rates pay for the debt acquired from that purchase.
“But it doesn’t leave enough leftover for any improvements, and the sewer always needs improvements to meet DNR requirements. So, without raising rates we would need to do something,” she said.
She said the reason the rates are not enough to cover the cost of maintenance is a combination of the age of the system and rapid growth of the town.
She said rates will have to increase whether the city sells the system or not.
If voters approve the sell of the sewer system, the city would pay off the debt and the board of aldermen would decide what to do with any leftover revenue. If the sale is approved, it would be the first time the sewer system was not maintained by the city.
Hallsville has asked the companies to return their requests for proposals by Nov. 1, so if resident vote to sell the system the city will begin looking at bid and negotiations right after the election.