Taneyville sewer system is now in the hands of the Taney County Regional Sewer District (TCRSD). On Jan. 7 the TCRSD took over the sewer systems for the Village of Taneyville, according to Taney County Regional Sewer District Administrator Brad Allbritton.
“The village of Taneyville over the years has reached out to us about potentially taking over their sewer system,” said Allbritton. “Taneyville does have a wastewater treatment facility and a collection system with a few different lift stations that they had operated and maintained. Having to maintain their own staff on limited funds, having to maintain insurance, phones and all that stuff added up. We even calculated in a board meeting one night that all those pretty standard expenses were basically taking about every bit of revenue that was coming into the village. There were times where they would struggle financially because of this.”
In previous years when emergency repairs were needed to be made the Village of Taneyville would feel a strain of this financial burden. Over the years, the village had reached out to the Taney County Commission (TCC) to request funds to help make repairs and keep their systems running. In October 2019, they came before the TCC where they requested and were approved to receive $30,000 to repair a flow meter and lift station that were damaged during an electric storm, according to Branson Tri Lakes News Archives.
“Being a small village with a smaller number of customers they periodically had financial troubles. The cost of having to maintain a full time clerk in the office, an operator and people to take care of the sewer system they always struggled to build up an adequate reserve,” said Allbritton. “We are blessed in Taney County to have the sewer tax funds that all the municipalities get a share of to make improvements and upgrades to their systems. What we encourage in the county is that the municipalities work to insure the best you can to build up an adequate reserve so when emergencies do happen you can take care of that. And that’s important to any utility. They (Taneyville) did struggle with that. Luckily the money was there to help them. The tax was put in place to operate, maintain and build sewer projects across the county.”
In October of 2020 the village of Taneyville approached the TCRSD to turn over operations, stated Allbritton.
“So I attended a couple meetings and it looked like they were wanting to move pretty quickly before the end of the year,” said Allbritton. “So we met with the TCRSD board and drafted an agreement and got that approved at the November board meeting. Each board, my board (TCRSD), the commissioners and their board (Taneyville) all proceeded to make that transfer happen.”
A lot of work was involved to get the ball rolling on the transfer, according to Allbritton. The TCRSD had to get account information from the village, and to get a good mapping system to put into the GIS system. The TCRSD field staff visited the Taneyville lift stations and treatment facility to get familiar with the systems that were already in place. All of this was done before the transfer happened on Jan. 7.
“We made the transfer happen on Jan. 7 of this year. And we started billing out for the month of December that first week of January and we have been in operations out there since,” said Allbritton. “We already have the clerks in place, we already have the operators in place, so the transfer just made sense. It was a pretty easy transfer really just to get their customer account information and to become more familiar with their system so that we can properly operate it, but we crunched all that in within a few weeks and were able to make that happen.”
In January the Taney County Commission board approved a funding agreement of $50,000 to assist in the upgrades and improvements to the Taneyville facilities, according to Allbritton.
“What we had done was evaluated the collection system and the treatment facility before the transfer,” said Allbritton. “We knew there was going to be a few thousand dollars that we would have to spend on improvements and upgrades to a couple lift stations and a few things at the treatment plant. Nothing super major but some upgrades that needed to happen for a while. So not knowing what else we would be getting into I requested $50,000.”
TCRSD has been evaluating the systems and equipment since the transfer to determine how they will utilize the funds to best improve and upgrade the equipment, stated Allbritton.
“As we become familiar and figure things out at the Taneyville system we will utilize that money to make improvements and upgrades to their equipment, but it has been a slow process so far. It’s just been a couple of months,” said Allbritton.
The TCRSD is looking into the possibility of update the existing lift stations within the Taneyville system. TCRSD has all submersible type lift stations, which means the pumps are down in the wet well. Taneyville has vacuum prime lift stations, explained Allbritton.
“We just may look to improve some lift stations in the future. There are some lift stations that need some attention and there are some potential upgrades,” said Allbritton. “Taneyville’s vacuum prime lift stations are old. They are about 20 years old and they need some attention. So we will evaluate to determine if we can put a little money in that and get by for several more years or if we need to convert that to a submersible type lift station like we have everywhere else.”
In the next few months the TCRSD will continue to get familiar with the Taneyville system and determine how to best utilize the funds they received for improvements and equipment. Taneyville has a fairly new treatment facility that works efficiently and meets the limits required, stated Allbritton.
“The treatment facility cleans the water up nicely. It has a new filter, a filter building project constructed, I believe in 2017. That building helps clean up the solids before it leaves the facility,” said Allbritton. “That is a modern piece of equipment in a modern building there that does a good job.”
According to Allbritton, one of the benefits of the transfer was that the TCRSD had staff in place to be able to service Taneyville citizens.
“We did not need to increase our staff level from a field prospective from field technicians or in the office.There are about 260 customers at Taneyville so even though that is a nice chunk of customers. In the grand scheme of things, we are well over 3,000 pushing close to 3,500 customers,” said Allbritton. “So to add a couple hundred wasn’t a big deal for us on the billing side. Obviously it took a lot of effort in a short period of time and I am so thankful and want to commend my team both in the office and in the field. They worked their tails off to get the information uploaded into our system.”
Customers in the Taneyville area have had concerns and questions since the transfer was completed. Staff at the TCRSD have fielded calls for the last several weeks and has been working to help guide customers through this process, shared Allbritton.
“We have heard from several people that they are very pleased with the transition and with the district’s ability to take care of things. Just being in the sewer business everyday, they were very pleased with that and thankful for the transition,” said Allbritton. “There are some that are frustrated obviously (due to) our procedures (being) a little bit different.”
The Village of Taneyville charged customers with a volume metric rate and the TCRSD charges a monthly flat fee of $37.50 per residential structure. This fee is billed no matter the usage at the property. This has caused some frustration for some customers who have vacant lots, or structures with no one living there that are used to not paying a bill, according to Allbritton.
“The village would take the winter average of the three months and they would calculate the rate based on that. I think that the last bill for them was $37.13. So the rate was almost identical to what we charge. This was another plus to the transfer,” said Allbritton. “We bill if someone is in the building or not, and that was different for people to have to get used to. We’re working with them on that.”
Property owners that have buildings or lots where they are not using the sewer do have the option to disconnect. If property owners decide to disconnect and want to reconnect in the furture there could possibly be a connection fee charged for that service, according to Allbritton.
“There are a lot of different variables and the village handled that differently than we do,” said Allbritton.
The transfer is still new and the staff at the TCRSD have been working to help identify issues and help resolve them as they arise.
“There was a crunch period to make all that happen but it’s really starting to settle down now. It’s just another arm of our system. I want to say overall it has worked very well,” said Allbritton. ”I want to say thank you to the village board of trustees and their staff. I am thankful to my board and our county commission for supporting this. I think it was a very good transition, something that probably needed to happen for quite a while and it finally did. Very thankful as we all should be for the Taney County sewer sales tax that really helps all of us to keep our waters clean in our county. It helps us keep rates low, and we can upgrade and improve our sewer systems.”
For more information customers can reach out to the TCRSD online at TRRSD.org or by calling the offices at 417-546-7221.