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Placer supes in regional sewer standoff

Some Placer County supervisors want more information before committing to Auburn-Lincoln pipeline
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - A Placer County Board of Supervisors decision on regional sewer treatment is still at least a meeting away. On Tuesday, Supervisor Robert Weygandt failed in an attempt to convince the board to show its hand on Middle Fork Project funding. Weygandt was asking for a policy statement on a proposal to pledge funding to the city of Auburn and the county’s North Auburn Sewer Maintenance District No. 1. Weygandt, the supervisor for the Lincoln area, asked fellow supervisors to “state their intent to direct about 10 percent of Middle Fork Hydroelectric Project revenues” to move forward on a regional funding plan for the long-debated Auburn-to-Lincoln sewer line. The projected annual revenue from the project, which the county and the Placer County Water Agency will regain control of next year after federal relicensing is complete, is $35 million. Before making a motion that found no one to second it, Weygandt advised that he wanted to take the board’s pledge to the next Auburn City Council meeting to help gain that body’s support. Instead, supervisors will move forward with their initial plan to look more closely at all alternatives at their March 13 meeting. Weygandt used a PowerPoint presentation with a slide from the movie “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid” showing Paul Newman and Robert Redford jumping off a cliff to illustrate what he considered a risk with a positive outcome. But Supervisor Kirk Uhler noted that while the Cassidy and “Kid” characters survived the leap, they were later shot to death at the end of the film. Uhler and fellow supervisors Jack Duran, Jim Holmes, Jennifer Montgomery weren’t willing to take a leap on a projected $94.6 million project Tuesday. Complicating the decision-making process, Auburn has a sewer plant that is in compliance with state standards and North Auburn’s plant already has an upgrade plan that has gone out to bid and is ready to be approved. Weygandt said that Middle Fork funding would hold Auburn rates and reduce North Auburn’s by $10 a month for residents. “I can’t think of a better fit for Middle Fork revenues,” Weygandt said. Holmes said he wasn’t prepared to commit an “enormous amount of money” on one project when the county had so many other demands that could be met from the same source. Holmes listed projected multi-million-dollar expenditures for the new South Placer County jail, increases in health and retirement costs for employees, and transportation projects put on hold by lack of funding. Holmes indicated he favors the North Auburn plant upgrade. “I can’t in good conscience commit for a $60 million project when there is a reasonable alternative,” Holmes said. Duran said he isn’t disagreeing with the regional alternative. “I just need more information,” he said. Auburn City Councilman Bill Kirby spoke to supervisors, stating that the city of Auburn has said that the regional plan is the best solution possible. But, like Placer County, it hasn’t made any funding commitments. “It’s like getting the Kings arena,” Kirby said. “It’s down to the wire but I see the light at the end of the tunnel.”