City spends more to win Navy utilities

Oak Harbor is spending another $150,000 in an effort to obtain the Navy’s sewage and water systems, bringing the city’s total investment to more than $500,000.

Like most military bases nationwide, Whidbey Island Naval Air Station is attempting to privatize its utilities, as directed by the Secretary of Defense.

The city has been negotiating for several years with the Navy to take over the Seaplane Base sewage treatment program; the city has also submitted bids to obtain the water system and the sewage system on the Ault Field base.

Last Tuesday, the council agreed to spend up to $150,000 to hire William Shook, a Seattle attorney with expertise in federal acquisitions, to help negotiate with the Navy. To fund the hire, several water and sewer construction projects will be delayed for a year.

City Administrator Thom Myers said the city should be able to earn back the money invested in the bidding process in cost savings and revenues from operating the systems. “Over a period of time,” he said, “we should be able to recapture our costs.”

The process has taken much longer than city officials had anticipated, but Myers hopes the city will finally find out whether it will get the sewage and water system by the end of the year.

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