By Lisa Loomis

Yesterday, January 30, was the deadline for early signup to Waitsfield's proposed municipal wastewater treatment system for Irasville.

Voters will be asked to approve a bond to fund the wastewater and municipal water system at Town Meeting in March.

The wastewater system will serve Irasville and by press time, on January 30, seven property owners had signed up for the early deadline (and the lowest connection fees). Property owners could sign up through the end of the day at the offices. Those seven users are among 82 possible property owners in the proposed service area. The seven who signed up represent 20 "equivalent residential units," or ERU, as the state counts an average household or its equivalent. There are a total of 225 ERUs in the service area.

The early deadline to sign up for water was January 15, at which time 48 people had signed up. That number has grown to 58 property owners representing 101 ERUs for the water system. The water system will serve properties between Tremblay Road and the southern end of Irasville.

By taking advantage of early signup options, property owners will pay less for connection fees when the time comes, although town project manager Mike Cunningham said he is in active discussions with many property owners and representatives about signing to one or both of the projects.

The town will bring a bond vote forward at Town Meeting, seeking up to $7 million for the water system and $10.5 million for the septic system. If both systems are fully funded, the impact will be 1.5 cents on the tax rate. System users will pay hookup fees and usage fees based on gallons of water use/bedrooms in the house. As proposed, the system measures "equivalent residential units" roughly, a three-bedroom two-bath house.

There are different connection fees for users, based on when they sign up. No money needs to be paid until after the bond vote. Monies that have been paid in will be held in an interest bearing account for system users should the bond fail.

Next Wednesday, February 6, MRVTV channel 44 will host a live call-in show with town administrator Valerie Capels and select board member and water/sewage taskforce member Roy Hadden taking questions from the public. That program begins at 7:30 p.m. A second call-in show takes place on February 27 on MRVTV at 7:30 p.m. Additionally, the select board will hold two more public hearings to explain the projects, the costs, the timing and any other questions that voters may raise. Those hearings are slated for February 20 and 25.

The bond request which will appear before voters in March will be made up of three articles. The first will ask voters to approve bonding for up to $7 million for the water project. The second article will ask voters to approve up to $5.5 million for installing the wastewater pipes, and if they have voted "yes" on that article, they can proceed to article 3 and vote on whether to bond for the final $5 million to construct the treatment plant. The town has received a $3 million grant and is hopeful of more funds from a USDA rural development grant.