FORESTVILLE - Time is of the essence for Bennett State Road to form a water district and save residents money.
An informational meeting was held Thursday for out-of-district residents. Five Bennett State Road residents attended the meeting, saying they were not informed.
Deputy Mayor Kevin Johnson said he had hoped more residents would attend but scheduled the meeting to explain why a water district is necessary and beneficial to Bennett State Road residents.
OBSERVER Photo by Nicole Gugino
Forestville Deputy Mayor Kevin Johnson (front) explained the village is supplying the legal services to draft a petition for a water district for Bennett State Road and supplying the engineering services required. Also pictured is Attorney Michael Sullivan.
Village Attorney Michael Sullivan said this situation is different from many instances of forming a water district because the water line is already in place. He said likely in the past 50 years the water line step by step ran out of the village through "handshake agreements" and without the formation of a district. In 2012, the village acted on the emergency of the 2-inch water line collapsing and replaced it with a 6-inch ductile iron pipe at a cost of $50,000 from the general fund and $150,000 in a short-term bond anticipation note (BAN).
Johnson said although the arrangement has been in place for so long, along with fixing the village's crumbling infrastructure and outdated water source, it now must follow state regulations.
Chautauqua County Health Department Water Resource Specialist William Boria explained one of these regulations is forming a water district to provide water.
"You must form a district or the water will be shut off," he said.
Eric Weis, senior associate with Clark Patterson Lee, explained the village wants to roll the debt from the Bennett State Road project into its 30-year zero-interest loan from the Environmental Facilities Corporation for its water project. He explained if this were to happen residents would pay between $300 to $330 per year for this debt alone, not including usage or the village's water project debt. This is contrasted to the $900 to $1,000 it will cost each resident per year if the debt is borrowed for 10 years at around 4 percent interest.
He added the village saved nearly $100,000 on the line by installing it themselves.
However, Clerk Jim White explained due to filing deadlines and time needed for the state to process documents, Municipal Solutions said the water district needs to be formed in January for this to happen.
Residents were mainly concerned with the cost after the district is formed. It was explained the water district would pay a different usage fee than the double rate residents currently are charged.
Hanover Supervisor Todd Johnson attended the meeting with two town councilmen and explained after the district is formed, residents would no longer be "out-of-district" but would be past of the town's water districts. He said if this is what happens, the town would maintain the line, bill the residents, negotiate a contract and a rate with the village and install water meters for each residence.
Supervisor Johnson said his concern was if the village's water source is reliable.
"I will need to see a clause in the contract that if there is a drought and there is no water in the pipe, someone will be putting water in the pipe because once it is a town district, I will be the one getting calls," he said.
Deputy Mayor Johnson assured him that the village has two wells which have a 120 and 180 gallons per minute capacity, where the typical usage in the village is 80 gallons per minute.
To move forward with the water district, a petition and engineering maps need to be done. Deputy Mayor Johnson said the village is providing the legal and engineering services for this and scheduled a meeting on Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. at the village hall to explain the petition to Bennett State Road residents. He said a letter would be sent out and he would personally try to make contact with the residents to encourage them to attend.
In the mean time he will be meeting with the water policy committee to get a rate change put forward for the out-of-district residents. This is expected to be approved at the next village board meeting on Jan. 14.
Sullivan will also be meeting with town Attorney Jeffrey Passafaro to work on the possible contract with the town.
A second January water district meeting was tentatively planned for Jan. 29, so that residents had time to look over the petition and could sign with the notary present.
If owners of 51 percent of the assessed value in the proposed district sign the petition, then it will be sent to the town for approval. The village and town will then work on a contract and negotiate a water rate.
Mayor Linda Aures had to leave the meeting early due to a family emergency.
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