FORESTVILLE - Bennett State Road residents were not happy Wednesday with the information the village of Forestville was able to give them on a water district.
Customers of the proposed Northside Water District gathered with the expectation that the village have cost figures and a petition for them to read over. Neither of these things were available Wednesday.
Deputy Mayor Kevin Johnson said the purpose of the meeting would be to answer questions and the petitions would be circulated later.
OBSERVER Photo by Nicole Gugino
Bennett State Road resident Ashley Battaglia stands to ask Forestville village officials what residents will pay if a water district is formed.
Bennett State Road resident Robert Schulze asked what the water district will cost them. Village Attorney Michael Sullivan said the village does know the waterline replacement construction cost $200,000, but did not have the water rate or the operation and maintenance costs.
Johnson said it is not the village's intention to charge Northside water district customers more than Forestville residents.
"We are not here to make a profit on this, we are here to provide a service," he said.
Residents were hesitant to sign a petition without first knowing the costs.
"It is very hard to swallow not having a price even close to what we are going to have to pay. It is like you want to buy a car and I say I will put it in your yard and bill you tomorrow. Do you want to pay for that car? That's what you are asking," Schulze said.
Many residents stressed wanting a fair price if they formed a district, but other residents question the need for a district at all.
Johnson explained as a part of its long-term funding contract for its new water system, the state requires that going forward it only supply water to water districts.
Clerk James White also explained the need to get the petition signed quickly because the window to be included in the village's zero-interest 30-year loan is closing in March. The other option would be short-term interest bearing financing which may make forming a district not feasible for residents. However, without a district the village is on the hook for the $200,000 and will no longer be able to supply residents with water.
"This is a situation where things were done in the wrong order. Usually, residents petition to have a waterline put in and then the costs are examined," Sullivan said.
Resident Ashley Battaglia pointed out that the Bennett State/Mixer Road waterline has always been there and the line was replaced not put in new. She asked if because of that the state would make an exception and grandfather in the line. Sullivan said it has never been done, but she insisted it was worth it to ask.
Battaglia asked if signing a petition locked residents into a contract for 30 years.
Sullivan said the petition is not the final step to forming a water district; the town of Hanover must hold a public hearing and vote on it, but the petition gives the board the go-ahead to vote yes even if residents are opposed after hearing the costs.
White suggested including language in the petition that the town form the district if the cost to the district does not exceed the cost to village of Forestville residents. Sullivan said it can be done but he will need time to draft the change.
Johnson said he and Mayor Linda Aures are going to call a special meeting of the village board to discuss water rates so that the residents will know the cost of water usage. The meeting will be Monday at 7 p.m. in the village hall. After the rates have been established they will need signatures of 50 percent of the taxable assessed value including 50 percent of the residential property. The village is hoping by getting the petitions with the water rates done as soon as possible, Hanover will have most of February to act on forming the district in time for the long-term zero-interest financing.