08/04/04 — Seven Springs wrestles with rising sewer fees

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Seven Springs wrestles with rising sewer fees

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on August 4, 2004 1:58 PM

SEVEN SPRINGS -- The town will decide on Aug. 11 how much to charge new customers to tap on to the sewer system.

The Seven Springs town board, which held a special called meeting Monday to discuss the matter, is divided on the issue.

The first sewer customers this spring paid $75 to tap on to the new sewer system. They also had to pay a plumber $1,500, said town board member Danny Carter.

"Then, there's the sewer bill," said Carter, adding that it would have kept him from moving to town if somebody tried to charge him a $1,000 tap-on fee, which is the price the engineer who designed the sewer system is recommending.

"Don't you think a tap fee of about $100 would be a lot more fair?" Carter asked.

The engineer, Tyndall Lewis, said the town should charge $1,000 for several reasons. He said the town needs any extra money it can get to help balance the budget. He said it will take a year or so to find out exactly what it will cost to operate the system, but the town could experience a $17,000 a year deficit.

He said it would cost more than $1,000 if someone built a new home in town and put in a septic tank.

"There are localities with higher tap fees, and there are localities with lower tap fees," he said. "We'll make it what you want. We've already borne the cost of putting in the taps and bringing them to the property lines. Some of the taps may never be used."

Lewis said he doesn't anticipate a lot of tap-ons each year. The only tap-on he knows of is Georgia Pacific, which is planning to connect to the system through Wayne County.

"If Georgia Pacific and others come on, we may be able to hold our rates the way they are," he said. "If not, we'll have to raise the rates to balance the budget. ... Your rates are high, but they're not high enough to cover costs."

A few Seven Springs customers have had very high bills, which Lewis thinks were caused by leaks. They're the exception and not the rule, he said.

"In a perfect world, we wouldn't have septic tanks that don't work or a $50 sewer bill," he added. "Sewer is an expensive service to provide. ... It's going to cost you wherever you go."

Lewis said anybody who wants to do any irrigation should build a separate well.

"If you hear a leak, try to get it fixed," he said. "That bill will blow up on you if you don't get it fixed."

The bottom line, said town board member Rodolph Adams, is "use the least you can and do the best you can." He said that without the sewer system there would be no Seven Springs, and the town is going to have to either charge the $1,000 or raise the rates.

The town has worked with Lewis many years, said Mayor Jewel Kilpatrick. "I have a lot of faith in him, and I don't think he'd steer us wrong."