KENNEWICK -- A Kennewick City Council candidate is accusing the city of wasting money by building two new booster pump stations 2,000 feet apart, instead of one larger station.
The city council recently voted to spend $907,000 to bring water to a high-priced development of more than 130 homes atop Thompson Hill in the southwestern part of the city.
John Trumbo, a retired Herald reporter now running for council, said the city could have saved up to $500,000 by expanding the Zone 5 pump station already under construction.
"You would think that adding on to a two-car garage would be cheaper than a second garage," Trumbo told the Herald.
But that isn't always the case, said Gary Deardorff, Kennewick's utility services manager. The city would have additional costs if it didn't build the Zone 6 station, which will serve only the top of Thompson Hill.
He said it's not known what the difference in the costs would have been.
The city might have saved some money by not having to duplicate engineering services, Deardorff said. But Kennewick would have to double the size of the building that houses the pumps. It also would have to buy stronger pumps to send water to the homes farther away.
The city also would have to pay for additional piping to reach the homes because the developers are paying for much of the pipe costs for Zone 6.
"We don't see that the cost savings would have been significant," he said.
But the city lacks evidence that it would have cost so much to add on to the Zone 5 station, Trumbo said.
"They haven't produced any of the numbers, nor have they shown that the size of the building would be doubled," he said.
Trumbo sees the move as poor planning.
"The city council and administration have allowed the public works department to push ahead with a plan that wasn't the smartest plan, it would appear," he said.
Kennewick City Manager Marie Mosley said the city works carefully in executing its comprehensive and capital facilities plans.
"I know we spend a lot of time making sure it is adequately planned and make sure we can serve our growing areas," she said.
Trumbo said he spoke with Kennewick's city attorney and agrees that it's too late to go back since construction has already started on the Zone 5 station. The contract was awarded to Rotschy Inc. of Vancouver, Wash.
"I don't think there is a lot they can do because of the legal risk," Trumbo said. "I don't see an easy way out of this."
The city is expected to be reimbursed for the cost of the pump station by agreements with developers and property owners who build there.
Bauder Young Properties of Richland is building the development atop Thompson Hill.
Trumbo is running against Roy "Bubba" Plunkett for the Ward 3 position on the city council that is being vacated by Councilman John Hubbard, who is challenging at-large Councilman Bob Parks.
Plunkett said separate pump stations are needed because the Zone 5 station would serve the Canyon Lakes area, while the Zone 6 station would serve the Southridge area.
"In my mind, that's the proper thing to do is put a new pump station into an area you're trying to develop," Plunkett said. "In my mind, it's worth the money to put in a new pump station instead of putting it in Zone 5 and just having to pump it farther and harder."
Trumbo says that's wrong. "It's not about serving South-ridge, it's about serving Thompson Hill, which is in Zone 6."
Trumbo said the pump stations aren't being built to cover area, rather elevations. He said the Zone 6 station only could serve locations higher than 940 feet in elevation.