Wausau Pilot & Review

City leaders on Tuesday approved proposals to close the McClellan Street parking ramp and issue anticipation notes of over $17.5 million to fund previously approved filtration technology at the new drinking water treatment plant.

The parking ramp on McClellan Street has structural issues and needed to be either repaired or closed, the city’s engineers said last month. The ramp is set to close on June 1 and demolition will begin next year.

The measure was previously approved by Wausau’s Capital Improvements and Street Maintenance Committee. The council had declined to give a nod after some alders raised procedural issues when city staff approached the Finance Committee, instead of CISM Committee, for the closure of the ramp.

The City Council also approved issuing anticipation notes of roughly $17.5 million to pay for interim financing for granular activated carbon (GAC) treatment improvements and equipment at the water treatment plant.

The Wausau Water Works Commission voted in June 2022 to adopt GAC technology to remove PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals,” from the water. The GAC technology, cited as a long-term solution for PFAS contamination, was estimated to cost about $17 million, according to a revised estimate presented to the Wausau Water Works Commission in October last year.

On Tuesday, Brian Roemer from Ehlers Public Finance Advisors, a consultant hired by the city, said the plan was to finance the long-term solution for the safe drinking water project with Wisconsin’s Safe Drinking Water Loan Program.

Roemer told a joint meeting of the city’s Finance Committee and the Wausau Water Works Commission in March that the anticipation notes are short-term debt obligations of the city. It was a pledge that the city would be incurring debt in order to pay back the Anticipation Notes. The notes will have a 1-year maturity period.

According to the timeline suggested by the consultant, bids for the notes would be due by June 8, with the city awarding interim financing at its June 13 meeting.