City may finance necessary water tower repairs with bonds

Linda Trest


The City of Gerald owns two water towers and both need repairs.

The original, 50,000 gallon tower, erected in 1962, is located between E. Springfield and Fourth streets, just east of Bernhardt Ave. 

The newer tower, which has a 200,000 gallon capacity, sits just east of Haase Dr., near Bull Moose Tube Co. This tower was purchased used and relocated to Gerald in 1980.

Both towers have an interior epoxy coating and an acrylic overcoat on their exteriors.  

City Engineer Terris Cates was directed by the Board of Aldermen to have inspections done on both towers. Cates was able to coordinate with two other municipalities, who also needed inspections, to procure a better price.   

In December, Cates presented the board with the completed inspection report from Coating Inspections, LLC of Eureka. The City was charged $2,000 for the report which included more than thirty pages of photographs for each tower. The photos help describe the exact nature of deficiencies and suggested repairs.

The City has had a special fund earmarked for water tower repairs. This fund was never touched for any other purpose, but unfortunately money was rarely added to the fund either. It contains $131,800.

The estimate to repair and recoat the large tower came in at $265,000. $5,000 of that would go to repairs, while the remaining $260,000 would be used to blast and repaint the tower. 

The smaller tower has estimated repair costs of $30,000 with another $190,000 needed to blast and repaint. This comes to $485,000 to repair/repaint both towers. 

Cates asked PiperJaffray to prepare a non-binding bond proposal for the board to consider. The City will be seeking a bond for $360,000. The bond rate would be between 3 to 3.25 percent interest for nine to ten years. 

The repairs are expected to last for 20 to 25 years. 

Cates urged the City to immediately begin saving for the next round of tower repairs once the  bond has been satisfied. 

Public Works Director Nick Grube reminded the board that a large-scale refurbishment at the water treatment plant has been scheduled for 2020. He suggested that due to that, the board might want to begin the water tower project immediately. 

Mayor Cary Parker inquired of Cates if the City could again team with the other municipalities to obtain cheaper rates for the repairs. Cates told him that the other two towns won’t be making repairs, the inspection revealed they need new towers.