CROMWELL — Although the state and federal governments have begun to limit how many people can gather, the Turkey Creek Regional Sewer District was able to slide in one last meeting before restrictions tighten.
The meeting was held Monday, March 16, in the garage bay with plenty of Clorox wipes present, and ample spacing between public members.
The board cut right to the chase to allow public members to leave sooner by opening with talk of the Eastshore/Northshore sewer project.
The project has been a hot-button topic, with more staunch adversaries than advocates. David Johnston, Donna Johnson and Judy DeLury have been just a few of the people who have spoken out on numerous occasions to express concern over the addition of sewers. Jeff Hersha of Jones and Henry worked with Andrew Boxberger of Carson LLP to knock out a few questions emailed by Johnston prior to the meeting.
Although several of Johnston’s questions were speculative in nature, questioning “fairness” or intent of long-standing laws, the board did address each one. Hersha explained comparing the cost of adding sewer in 1977 (when the district was formed) to the estimated cost today (the number $15,000 has been thrown out frequently by the public) that it is currently cheaper to install. Johnson questioned the fairness of the financial burden on homeowners, another frequently-made point, which led the board to a discussion of how to determine need, how to apply for septic tank exemptions and the possibility of grants.
Boxberger explained that even a few people expressing a need merits serious consideration. “I understand you might not like it,” said Boxberger, noting the district has a legal obligation to provide sewer service and can be held accountable for any unauthorized discharge.
Johnston questioned why the district had ever asked for the public’s opinion if there was no intent to heed it. Boxberger contended the district intends to move forward with the project unless the finances make it impossible. He cited a $300/month sewer charge as a justifiable reason to stop the project.
Hersha told the board he had turned over all his information to the financial planning team, and was waiting on info. The board approved a $3,000 expenditure to allow a grant writer to essentially work door-to-door collecting data on income levels to determine if this specific project would qualify for the grant to help offset costs. Hersha noted 51% or more of the property owners will need to be below the set income level to make the grant possible, and with current figures on file it was sitting around 31% currently.
Ann Xanders spoke up in support of the project, as she has done previously, noting it seems like a no-brainer decision. She based this on the fact the health department won’t allow septic tank exemptions after 20 years, and noted more than 60% of the current systems in this area are 30+ years old — a statistic provided by the district during initial research — but also acknowledges that number cannot be static due to continuous changes.
In other matters, the board passed a motion to outline how bills are paid when board meetings cannot happen.
The board passed a motion allowing renewal of the health insurance policy with Anthem; it will go into effect May 1.