Approval near on agreement on sending sewage from Bolton Lakes to Manchester
By Kimberly Phillips
MANCHESTER - Town directors said they are inclined to approve an agreement next month with the Bolton Lakes Regional Water Pollution Control Authority to extend sewers a mile up East Middle Turnpike and over the town line.
Officials from Bolton and Vernon, which also are included in the regional WPCA, will consider the unofficial nod from Manchester officials during a meeting tonight when that group votes on approving the agreement.
"We've negotiated this in good faith for a number of years, and we really are on the eve of finality," Manchester Town Manager Scott Shanley said during a policy briefing Tuesday that polled directors.
For two decades, officials in Bolton and Vernon have worked to bring sewers to residents in the Bolton Lakes area to satisfy a government mandate requiring property owners to switch from septic systems to sewers.
Because engineering studies found Manchester's sewer system was under-loaded and able to accept the extra flow, the town was approached with the idea of running the line into Bolton past 16 Manchester homeowners who'll have the opportunity to hook into the line.
Sewage from the region will fill unused capacity in Manchester's system, causing it to operate more effectively.
Discussions began about six years ago, Shanley said, and in 2005 the regional WPCA got its funding in place. The formal agreement is all that's missing, he said, but "it's just about come together."
Under the terms of the agreement, the regional WPCA will pay for the cost of constructing the line, estimated at about $600,000, in addition to maintaining and operating it.
Bolton Lakes customers also will pay for effluent removal and the price of connecting to the line, which has been negotiated at $500 per hook up. That price will hold for five years from the start of construction.
Shanley said the town would net about $250,000 annually as a result of the agreement. That amount would rise with sewer rate increases.
"This is definitely a positive benefit to the ratepayers for this agreement," Shanley said.
The regional WPCA is expected to adopt the agreement during its meeting at 7 tonight at the Vernon Senior Center auditorium, 26 Park Place, Vernon. The approval would put the agreement in place by the start of the fiscal year on July 1.
Manchester directors won't be able to make that mark, however, as they're scheduled to take a formal vote in July.
Also, Shanley said, because the negotiated hook-up fee is $500, which is much less than the $1,900 fee that goes into effect for the rest of the town on July 1, the board must hold a public hearing.
The agreement does not specify the cost of hook up for the 16 Manchester residents who will be able to connect to the main once it's installed. Shanley has recommended they also become eligible for the $500 fee.
These residents would be required to connect only if they have a septic system failure, otherwise connection would be optional.
Republican Minority Leader Louis A. Spadaccini said that while he's not opposed to the $500 connection fee, "it's an obvious question why do some residents get a reduced hook-up charge."
All new customers, regardless of their location in town, should be eligible for the $500 fee, he contended.
Still, Shanley said of connection charges for Manchester property owners, "It's for a different discussion."
Bolton Administrative Officer Joyce Stille, who attended the policy briefing, said the total cost of the sewer project to the regional WPCA is about $16 million.
Construction is slated to begin in 2008 and take about five years.
©Journal Inquirer 2007