The Sarpy County and Sarpy Cities Wastewater Agency board approved two resolutions Nov. 6 that will provide initial funding for the sewer system and begin the process of finding private sector partners to build and operate the system.

The first resolution approved an agreement between Sarpy County and the five Sarpy cities to direct funds Omaha Public Power District pays to Sarpy County, called PILOT funds, to build the sewer system south of a ridgeline that has prevented sewer infrastructure installation due to costs of pumping wastewater over it.

OPPD pays Sarpy County 5% of its gross electricity sales within the boundaries of Sarpy County’s cities. Those funds are then distributed to the county, cities and school districts.

Under the approved agreement, the cities and the county will devote any new PILOT funds generated by developments south of the ridgeline to the wastewater agency.

Once the wastewater agency has enough money to get started and cash flow from its operations, the agency will reimburse those entities for their contributions. The agreement puts a cap on combined contributions at $30 million.

Each city and the county also has a contribution threshold that, if exceeded, would be paid back with interest.

Sarpy County has the largest threshold at $11.29 million. Papillion is second at $6.16 million while Bellevue, Gretna and Springfield are between $4 and $4.3 million. La Vista, which does not have any land south of the ridgeline, will not contribute PILOT funds.

Papillion, Springfield and the county will likely contribute the most PILOT funds due to the cluster of massive data centers like those of Facebook and Google, which use large amounts of electricity, along Highway 50.

The second resolution gave the agency’s financial adviser, Ernst & Young, authority to perform market tests to determine if the agency’s “operating and financial assumptions will support a public-private partnership.”

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