Hughes not going to reach June 2018 deadline to rebuild sewer treatment facility

HUGHES, Ark. -- Council members in Hughes, Arkansas are trying to figure out how they’re going to finish much needed repairs and restorations in the city when the budget doesn’t have room for it.

We’ve told you about council members recently approving bonuses for themselves.

It’s upset community members who think the money could be spent in better places.

“If I lived in Hughes, I would be raising a lot of hell because nothing is getting done," said Aristea George who manages two apartment complexes in Hughes.

George said her tenants often complain about the water there.

“It’s outrageous.”

Her concerns are some of many right now in the small town.

“They’ve got more problems than people can think they have," said Ricky Barkley.

One glaring problem is a state mandate to replace the city's sewer treatment facility by June of 2018.

“It’s already too late to have it completed by the deadline," said Mayor Grady Collum.

In 2011, the state found violations ranging from wastewater being pumped into the chlorination unit to the pump stations being in bad condition.

Five years later, the state cited 24 violations at the plant.

The city then submitted a plan on how they’d get the facility into compliance.

The mayor said it requires them to tear down and rebuild, an estimated half-a-million dollar project. That’s around the same amount of money they have in the budget all together.

“We have tried everywhere for grants/ We have tried everywhere for loans and we have no promise of any money from anywhere," said Mayor Collum.

Mayor Collum said the facility was built for $330,000 during one of his previous terms.

He said future administrations didn’t know how to operate the plant and didn’t try to. He said abuse and neglect led the facility to the conditions it's in today.

Now, they’re looking at a $500,000 dollar price tag to fix it.

A state spokesperson said they’re aware the city is going to ask for an extension in completing the facility.

City council members said they’re going to look into forming a committee to look for grants.

Hughes lost its designation as a low and middle income area (LMI) in the last census. They’re talking about challenging that so they're more eligible for grants.