October 14, 2017 - Sewerage Spill Reduction Action Plan: Summary Progress Report FY2016-17

The District submitted it's SSRAP summary progress report for FY2016-17 to the EPA.  A PDF copy of the report is available for download HERE. The report outlines progress by the District on reducing spills and I&I (Infiltration and Inflow into the system.)

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August 29, 2017 - Dr. Marc Nash appointed to Alto Sanitary Board of Directors

Dr. Marc Nash was appointed to the Alto Sanitary District Board in a special August meeting. The board thanks all the applicants who applied for the position. Director Nash has been a resident since 2012 and is a physician specializing in cancer treatment (radiation oncology.) He has worked collaboratively on many boards and commissions in the healthcare setting throughout his career. He looks forward to serving his community on the Alto Sanitary District board.

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July 18, 2017 - Notice of Vacancy on Alto Sanitary Board of Directors

After 32 years of exemplary service, President Stanley Bransgrove resigned from the Alto Sanitary District Board on 6/30/17.  The District thanks President Bransgrove for one of the longest terms served in Marin County on a local government board! A Notice of Vacancy has been posted along with an Application for Appointment on the website HERE and is also available for pick-up at the Sewerage Agency of Southern Marin office, 450 Sycamore Ave, Mill Valley.  Applications are due via email to manager@altosanitarydistrict.org or by post to Alto Sanitary District, PO Box 163, Mill Valley, CA 94942, by 08/22/17, 5PM PST. An appointment will be made at the 08/23/17 Board of Directors meeting.  Please email any questions to District Manager Bill Hansell at manager@altosanitarydistrict.org .

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January 25, 2017 - Tania Kennedy appointed to Alto Sanitary Board of Directors

Former Director Tania Kennedy was appointed to the Alto Sanitary District Board at the regular January meeting.  Director Kennedy formerly served the District from 2005 thru 2015 and is looking forward to bringing her experience to the Board again.

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January 10, 2017 - Notice of Vacancy on Alto Sanitary Board of Directors

After nearly 30 years of service, Director Pedro Femenia has resigned from the Alto Sanitary District Board.  The District thanks Director Femenia for his many years of dedication, expertise, and time! A Notice of Vacancy has been posted along with an Application for Appointment on the website HERE and is also available at the Sewerage Agency of Southern Marin office.  Applications are due via email to manager@altosanitarydistrict.org or by post to Alto Sanitary District c/o Sewerage Agency of Southern Marin, 450 Sycamore Ave, Mill Valley, CA 94941, by 01/25/17 at Noon PST. Please email any questions to District Manager Bill Hansell at manager@altosanitarydistrict.org .

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November 2, 2016 -SASM Announces Sale of Revenue Bond for $38 million to Improve Wastewater Facility

The Sewerage Agency of Southern Marin (SASM) has announced the sale of $38 million in sewer revenue bonds through a competitive bidding process, after the bond issuance was granted an AA positive rating by Standard & Poor's Rating Service. The SASM Board approved a bond issue in the fall of this year to facilitate critical upgrades and improvements to the SASM wastewater treatment plant located in Mill Valley.

SASM is a Joint Powers Agency formed in 1979 to consolidate the wastewater collection, treatment, water reclamation and disposal needs of about 28,000 residents in Southern Marin County. SASM is made up of six member agencies: the City of Mill Valley, Tamalpais Community Services District, Almonte Sanitary District, Alto Sanitary District, Homestead Valley Sanitary District and Richardson Bay Sanitary District.

As outlined in the SASM Facilities Master Plan, the planned upgrades will update the plant’s aging infrastructure, protect it from flooding, prepare for its future needs, and incorporate sustainability initiatives. The Master Plan calls for more than $30 million in capital improvement projects (CIPs) over the next five years, and another $30 million in CIPs over the 25 years after that at the wastewater treatment plant.

Planned projects will include rehabilitation of treatment and conveyance facilities and electrical system upgrades, odor control, frontage landscaping, and overhaul of the critical treatment equipment and facilities. Without the proposed improvements, SASM will not be able to continue to properly and safely collect and treat its sewage.

"The Wastewater Treatment Plant has served the needs of the community for 33 years, but it is clear to us that the plant’s facilities have surpassed their useful life," Board President Lew Kious said. "Today’s bond sale will allow us to make much needed improvements to be in a better position to provide wastewater services to our community and protect the environment going forward.”

A revenue bond is a municipal bond supported by the revenue from a specified revenue-generating entity. Standard & Poor's granted the bonds with an AA positive, indicating that SASM has a strong capacity to meet its financial commitments. The AA positive rating means the SASM can attain a lower interest rate resulting in lower annual debt service payments and a premium of $1.8 million on the sale of the bond providing SASM with $39.8 million with a repayment of $38 million in principle.

The bond will be purchased by Piper Jaffrey and Company who offered a net interest rate of 3.05% for the 30-year bond along with the $1.8 million bond issuance premium,.

The bonds are set to be paid back with wastewater ratepayer revenues over a period of 30 years. Along with the payments for the bond sale, SASM will have an annual debt service payment of $2,120,000 per year from 2022 to 2042, then dropping to approximately $1,875,000 from 2043 to 2046.

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SEWER SERVICE CHARGE INCREASE

JUNE 22, 2016 - SEWER SERVICE FEE RATE INCREASE APPROVED BY THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS

On June 22, 2016 a public hearing was held for the proposed sewer service fee increase.  There were a total of 50 protests against the proposal.  154 protests, a majority of the property owners, were needed to prevent the adoption of the rate increase.  In a unanimous vote, the Board of Directors of the Alto Sanitary District approved an increase in the sewer service charge.  Rate payers will be charged $1,100 per Equivalent Dwelling Unit (EDU) for the fiscal year starting July 1, 2016.  The sewer service charge is paid through the property tax bill which is sent out in the fall.

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At the May 25, 2016 meeting of the Alto Sanitary District board of directors the proposed ordinance to increase sewer service charges to the residents of the District will be discussed.   At the meeting the reasons requiring the rate increase will be explored.  What follows is information the Board will be considering:

BACKGROUND

The Sewerage Agency of Southern Marin (SASM) has concluded a study of the existing wastewater treatment plant and determined that much of the equipment and infrastructure is at the end of its operational life. SASM has adopted a plan for capital improvements necessary to ensure its safe and efficient operation in the future.

On February 18, 2016 the Sewerage Agency of Southern Marin (SASM) Board of Commissioners decided to apply for a $30 million bond to pay for capital improvements at the wastewater plant and pump stations over the next five years. Prior to SASM fixing the amount of the bond, the member agencies, which include the Alto Sanitary District, could not calculate the share which SASM would levy on the Districts: The member agencies only knew that there would be an increase.

On February 24, 2016, at the regular February meeting of the Alto Sanitary District, the Directors discussed the need to raise sewer rates to1) cover the proposed SASM assessment; and 2) pay for the District’s own $3.8 million in capital projects.

At the February 24th meeting, a sub-committee was formed to study possible ways to finance the District’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) and its obligations to SASM.  The sub-committee explored the possibility of borrowing the $3.8 million CIP funds.  After studying several options the sub-committee approached SASM to see if Alto might take advantage of the excellent interest rate of the bond by adding the District’s financing to the package.

At the March 23rd Alto Board meeting, the Board established the new projected sewer rates based on information available at that time and the manager was given direction to start the Prop. 218 process for a sewer rate ordinance to be adopted at the June 22, 2016 Alto Board meeting, including preparing and sending a public notice containing the proposed rates to each property owner in the district.

In April, as preliminary discussions with SASM regarding Alto joining the SASM bond issuance, continued, it became apparent that the anticipated financial benefit was going to be offset by fees SASM would expect, and that SASM was not looking favorably at the idea of allowing a member agency to piggy-back with the SASM bond issuance. At the April 20th Board meeting it was determined that the District would have to abandon the financing of our capital work through the bond and the manager was directed to work out sewer rates based on a pay-as-you-go approach to the CIP projects.

Concurrent with the foregoing exploration of financing options, the member agencies were required to submit their annual sewer hook-up counts, known as Equivalent Dwelling Units (EDU), from which SASM calculates the fees each member agency must pay the following year. This year, the Alto Sanitary District’s share went down.  The actual assessment that Alto Sanitary District will have to pay in FY 2016/17 is $202,160; a $10,483 reduction from the amount projected in March.

DISCUSSION

Click this link to see a table showing projected costs over the next five years and the projected deficits they would bring to our operating budget.  Each column represents one year of income and expenses.  Shown at the bottom of each column is the deficit, the percent that rates would have to be raised to break even, and the dollar amount that would calculate to.

The assessment by SASM is non-discretionary. And even though the Rate Funded Capital and the Fund Reserves are discretionary, it is advised that these amounts be kept intact as it is the opinion of the manager that these amounts are bare minimums to run the District responsibly.

Under Proposition 218 law, once the public notice has been sent out, the amounts of the new rates cannot be made higher than what was published. But the law does not prohibit adopting lower rates.  The Board may adjust rates at this first reading.  Any changes will be presented at the public hearing on June 22, 2016.

For a chart showing the comparison of rates between all Marin Sanitary Districts click here.