Waitsfield will now cover the physical connection costs for users of its soon-to-be-built municipal water system. This change will save users between $2,000 and $3,000 apiece. Construction of the project gets underway this week.
Water system users will still have to pay the one-time connection fee, but the select board agreed this week to a proposal from the water task force that the town cover the actual cost of connecting each property to the main water line.
This can be done with no additional cost to the town or users because
bids for the $7.6 million project came in significantly under budget.
The savings will also allow the service area of the project to be
expanded - another change that the select board approved this week at
its September 27 meeting.
EXPANDED SERVICE AREA
The service area of the project will be expanded to include service to Farr Lane, Parsonage Lane, Mehuron Drive and Carroll Road. The existing planned service area included Waitsfield Village, Tremblay Road, Old County Road, Bridge Street and Irasville.
These two changes in the project will be funded through the existing loan/grant package which the town has received. The changes total an estimated $1,073,550. According to members of the task force, who discussed the changes with the select board this week, these two changes have the potential to increase the number of connections which will lower the costs for all users.
Task force members Darryl Forrest, Robin Morris, along with municipal project manager Henry Erickson presented the recommendation to the select board and answered questions regarding their discussions with the funding agency last week.
FUNDED FROM EXISTING LOANS
Task force members explained that the installation costs of the additional service and connections could be fully funded from the existing loans and grants and further confirmed that the operating and maintenance costs were budgeted to be paid by the water system users.
The water project is currently under budget by $1.3 million and Rural Development, the funding agency, would only allow the monies to be spent on physical service connections to users who have signed up.
"The funding for the water system users' physical connection costs will require a permanent easement from each user from the town right of way to the connection point," said Darryl Forrest, who heads the water task force. "The users are currently on the hook for the physical connection costs that average $2,000 to $3,000 each and this change is much needed in the current economy."
The funding of the physical connection will be available to users in Waitsfield and Irasville who have signed a water customer commitment prior to October 31. The $500 per ERU connection fee will be extended through October 31. After that time the connection fee will increase to $3,000.
"A number of users have signed on for connection in Farr Lane, Parsonage Lane, Mehuron Drive and Carroll Road; initially these town roads were not included in the project due to budget constraints. Since the water contracts came in under budget by $1.3 million there is grant funding available to complete these installations," said Erickson.
The additional water service to Carroll Road will end at the Waitsfield town line with Fayston. This connection allows the town of Fayston the ability to have water service extended to the properties on Carroll Road and Mad Ellen Road.