Members of the Van Buren Municipal Utilities Commission have approved a 2018 budget.

Director of Utilities Steve Dufresne presented the preliminary operations and maintenance budget at the commission’s December meeting.

The budget includes $11,651,177 in revenue from water, sewer and sanitation services with expenditures of $10,813,603.

Present at the meeting were commissioners Jim Williamson, J.W. Floyd, Todd Young and Keith Hefner as well as Commission Engineer Larry Weir. Chairman C.E. Dougan was absent for the final meeting of 2017.

The commission also discussed the 2017 capital improvement program. Projects completed during the year included $1,076,444 in improvements to the city’s water and sewer infrastructure and $50,355 in equipment replacements, Dufresne said.

Water system upgrades for 2017, according to Dufresne, included:

• Ongoing water meter replacement of $63,646.

• A total of $189,333 for recoating and site improvements of the Pernot storage reservoir, including demolition of a deteriorating concrete reservoir constructed in 1949. This project began in 2016 with a total cost of $499,416.

• Prospect water transmission line replacement included $590,493 in 2017 expenditures for the replacement of the city’s oldest water line, installed in 1893. This project also began in 2016 and had a total price tag of $988,202. A 6-inch water line installed in 1893 and an 8-inch water line installed around 1926 were damaged beyond repair as a result of a landslide caused by the flooding in 2015. They were replaced with about 3,000 feet of 12-inch and 18-inch water lines. VBMU was approved for approximately $750,000 in grant funding from Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management for the project. As of Feb. 19, a total of $292,019 has been received with the remainder expected in early 2018.

• Upgrades to the variable frequency drive system at the Parkridge water pumping station at a cost of $10,342.

Sewer system upgrades for 2017 included:

• North waste water treatment plant sludge transmission line installed at a total cost of $187,371.

• Replacement of a section of deteriorated clay tile sewer line on North 28th Street at a cost of $29,430.

• Replacement of a section of deteriorated clay tile sewer line on South Fourth Street at a cost of $18,700.

Dufresne said planning for 2018 capital improvements is in progress and could include approximately $640,000 in water system improvements, approximately $400,000 in sewer system improvements, and around $93,000 in equipment upgrades.

Projects will be presented to the commission for review and approval by Dufresne based on a critical needs basis and available funds.

“The City of Van Buren Municipal Utilities continues to meet sewer system maintenance and upgrade requirements to reduce sewer overflows included in an Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality consent administrative order,” Dufresne said.

The CAO, issued in 2015, includes approximately $10 million in maintenance and system improvements through 2035, he said.