By Beth David, Editor
The Acushnet Selectboard met with neighbors on Tuesday, 10/3, who will be assessed a betterment fee for a sewer extension on Main Street up to, and including, 18 Wamsutta Avenue. An emergency at 225 Main Street prompted the town to assess the septic situation in the neighborhood.
The board voted at a previous meeting to do the work in house, with highway department superintendent Daniel Menard saying he was confident the Department of Public Works could handle the project.
If done by the DPW, the project will save residents a lot of money. Sewer betterment projects can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
A total of 15 homes will be responsible for splitting up the total cost of the project, which will place a stub, or hookup, in the street in front of each house. Each homeowner will be responsible for paying to tie into that stub from the house.
At the previous meeting, and reiterated at Tuesday’s meeting, was the looming specter that project costs could go way out of whack if significant ledge is in the way.
Mr. Menard told neighbors that he estimated they would each have to pay $9,500 to cover the cost of the project. The board added $1,000, voting to approve the project with a betterment fee “not to exceed $10,500.”
Neighbors went back and forth a bit, because Mr. Menard said his $9,500 estimate was on the high end.
“I’m a far bigger pessimist,”‘ said Town Administrator Brian Noble, who advocated for a 10% cushion. “I’m a far bigger pessimist.”
He said if the price comes in under the estimate, they will be the “hero,” but if it goes over, “We’ll be a bum.”
Mr. Menard noted that if he hits a lot of ledge, he will not have the equipment to handle the project and the estimate will not be valid.
Selectboard Chairperson Kevin Gaspar said that if significant ledge is found, the town will stop the project and reassess.
“None of us can see underground,” said Mr. Gaspar, adding that the project was a test for the town.
He said if the DPW can do the project, it will save a lot of money for residents, and the town can look at other areas to use the DPW for sewer expansion.
“We’re not trying to make money on this deal,” said Mr. Gaspar.
“It’s a test,” he said, noting that we was not “sugar coating” it. “We are testing the town’s ability to lay sewer pipe and water.”
Mr. Menard said he worked in the field for many years and could assure residents that the $9,500 price tag was significantly lower than using an outside company. There will be no separate tie-in fee.
Mr. Noble and Mr. Gaspar also told residents they could finance the betterment, and provided a worksheet with examples of the payments and total payout at 5% interest for 5, 10, 15, and 20 years. The rate is set by the state, said Mr. Noble.
Mr. Gaspar said the town would prefer that residents pay up front, on the other hand, the town was the financier for the project, so they would get the interest.
“We’re going above and beyond here,” said Mr. Gaspar. “We’re borrowing against ourselves.”
He said the town will use money from the sewer enterprise fund to pay for the project.
Mr. Menard will meet with homeowners to determine the placement of the stubs and to advise them on the best way to hook up from their homes.
He said he hopes to start digging on 10/16.
In another matter, the board voted to allow Mr. Noble to hire an interim Council on Aging Director. Paula Rossi-Clapp resigned to take a new position in another municipality. She was appointed to the position in October of 2015.
The next meeting will be on 10/24 and the board will hold the annual tax classification hearing, when they will set rates for the next fiscal year.
The board began the meeting with a moment of silence for victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting •••
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