By Chelsea Los
After a less formal introduction to the public last month, the Turkey Creek Regional Sewer District board voted to approve a motion that will increase customer costs by about 9% during the next three years. Monday night’s meeting was split into a standard business-as-usual chat and the more formal presentation of the resolution that allows that increase.
The district seems to be holding true to its word on this project and the overall feel of the communication: no more surprises.
After a disastrous first approach on phasing in sewers around Syracuse Lake, the board has tackled the second try with more gusto, more data, and a more specialized attorney. Although public participation has significantly dwindled, the board has pushed forward on securing the funding, data, and planning necessary to move ahead with the intent to add sewers. In this same vein, smaller annual items seem to be getting checked off left and right, possibly in preparation for the large-scale workload required if the district can financially and feasibly surge ahead.
Jeff Rowe of Tilly Baker presented his official rate review and recommendation to the board with a summary for the public during the regular monthly meeting. Rowe noted his team’s study looks at current operations as well as historical data, and uses that to try to capture info for the future. This scope includes operating costs, debt service, and capital improvements. Rowe suggested a three-phase increase (already solidified verbally by the board last month) that would amount to a $2 increase per year, landing at a rate of $71.85 per month per single-unit dwelling. In comparison, Rowe indicated the state average hovers a bit closer to $75 per user.
The July meeting also outlined a plan of attack for grant-writers to receive current data on income in the area of Syracuse Lake. The first phase included postcard mailings, of which the district received only four responses. The second phase, phone calls, was abysmal, leaving phase three: door-to-door surveying. Jeff Hersha, Jones & Henry, was unable to confirm whether the third phase had even been completed. Hersha did explain the surveys are completely random, and based on capturing a specific (but undisclosed) percentage of the homeowners.
Tim Woodward, district superintendent, noted his team had been working extra hard due to being one employee short and consistently increased flow levels. Woodward pointed to home learning from grade schools and colleges, and noted the pandemic travel options have left many people home more often. Shortages around the world have also begun to affect the district in both scarcity and cost of needed items such as ferric chloride, UV bulbs, and electricity. Woodward is trying to combat some of this by purchasing shelf supplies before they are needed.
Woodward also recommended to the board they begin to review the life of 14 generators of varying sizes and voltage that have been used for nearly 20 years. As the generators begin to fail and require repair, Woodward will make recommendations on a large-scale replacement due to the high cost of repairs.
Here’s a few more notable updates from the board:
The board also passed a resolution allowing themselves repayment for current costs associated with the project pending the approval of funding from the state revolving fund.
Woodward and attorney Andrew Boxberger are monitoring six properties that have failed to connect after repeated notices. A final notice is being mailed this month and after the board agreed to waive fees up to Aug. 31, some property owners may find themselves shelling out fines hand-over-foot if they do not connect. The fine schedule is available to the public at any time through the district.
The district will be working with the county for approval of no parking signs at several pump locations. Parked cars are blocking access to those pumps and violators may be towed once notice is posted.
The board will meet again at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 21.