NORTH WEBSTER — It was no gentle start to the Thursday evening, Oct. 1, monthly meeting of Lakeland Regional Sewer District’s board in the North Webster Community Center, as the meeting kicked off with three bill pay requests of substantial amounts.
Since work has started on three separate portions of the large sewer project, the contracted companies have now requested pay in the amounts of $239,119.62, $198,657.32 and $276,945.17. The board approved the payment of $1,169,820.39 in bills an invoices.
DLZ Engineering representative Phil Hibbert provided updates on the construction zones, noting preliminary work like grading and clearing is still being done on the wastewater plant site, while two other locations will be seeing grinder installation during the next couple weeks. “Over the next 30 days, you’re going to see a lot of activity going on,” said Hibbert.
One key portion of the project, an access road, warranted much discussion from the board. Once construction started, workers found about 4 feet of topsoil at the proposed road location. Hibbert presented an option to relocate the site of the road to an area that was found to have just 1 foot of topsoil. At either location, topsoil would need to be removed in order to build, but moving the road to the second proposed location would save the district anywhere from $40-48,000, as quoted by Hibbert. The board made a motion to relocate the site of the access road and also relocate a proposed detention pond, all contingent on the county government approving the plan.
The board also approved an ordinance that would give some flexibility to property owners who won’t use sewer. For example, some customers may own land in the district, but not use water or sewage to a structure on that property, such as a barn or storage unit. The ordinance allows these property owners to fill out a form and have their land and building inspected to insure no sewage is being used. After it is confirmed, the only bill incurred will be for the debt service, about $46.50. Including the user charge, owners in the district with sewage are currently paying $66.15.
Debt service, defined as the “principal and interest payments on all proposed revenue bonds or other long-term capital debt,” serve to provide income for the district to repay the money borrowed for the project.
The board also noted it is working closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to find an economical solution for the more than 60 land owners who did not join in the project. “Some of these property owners now desperately want to join the project, but we simply don’t have the funding for it,” noted board president Jim Haney. The board expects to have updates in time for the meeting in November.
The public members had several important questions, each of them cleared up by the board. One gentleman wanted to know what his rate would be without sewer on a property, and the board referred him to the new ordinance. Another public member inquired about the ways the public is informed of ordinances and rates from the district. Although ordinances aren’t mailed to each home as this woman desired, a copy is available at the public library and can be found online at the district’s website. Information can also be found by visiting the district’s office, located in the North Webster Community Center.
The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 5, at the NWCC.