Dallas to borrow $1.75 M to buy Mercer Reservoir

DALLAS — The city of Dallas will borrow $1.75 million to pay for most of the purchase of property surrounding the city’s sole water source, Mercer Reservoir.

The Dallas City Council approved the loan, offered through the Department of Environmental Quality’s Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund. Terms on the loan are 20 years at 1.6 percent interest. The city applied for the loan in 2015, and was recommended for funding.

“It’s a 400-acre purchase that has been negotiated over the last year,” said Mayor Brian Dalton before the council took its 8-0 vote approving the loan on Jan. 17. Councilor Jackie Lawson was excused from the portion of the meeting during which the vote took place.

The total cost of the purchase is $1.895 million.

Engineering and Environmental Services Director Fred Braun wrote in a memo to the council that the city will be purchasing approximately 405 acres of land immediately surrounding the reservoir.

“The purchase includes sites that were identified as geologically prone to landslides as well as prime land that can be used for timber harvest and/or expansion of the reservoir,” Braun wrote. “The city will set aside (from timber harvest) the areas determined to be geologically sensitive.”

The purchase price will be divided among three land owners: Golden Pond Timberlands — $975,000; John Hancock Life Insurance Company USA — $621,000; and Hancock Timberland XI Inc. — $303,000.

The remaining $145,000 of the purchase price not covered by the loan will be drawn from the city’s water systems development charges fund, which is set up to pay for expansion of the system.

Braun said repayment of the loan was calculated into the new utility rates that will go into effect in February.

Purchasing pieces of the Rickreall Watershed, which feeds the reservoir, was suggested in a detailed study of the watershed completed on behalf of the city in 2012.

On other business, the council:

• Heard Mayor Brian Dalton’s annual State of the City address.

• Elected Councilor Micky Garus as its council president in a 5-4 vote. He will serve a two-year term as council president.

At the Jan. 17 meeting, all nine councilors were present, though Councilor Jackie Lawson called into the meeting from Eugene. Lawson nominated Garus for the post, while Councilor Kelly Gabliks nominated Councilor Ken Woods Jr.

Garus won on the first ballot — the previous attempt to elect a council presided ended in a tie — with the support of Lawson and councilors Jennie Rummell, Paul Trahan and Terry Crawford. He voted for himself.

Woods voted for himself, along with councilors Jim Fairchild, Bill Hahn and Gabliks.

Following the council president vote, Lawson was excused for the remainder of the meeting.

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