12/09/05 — Mount Olive sewer rates to increase

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Mount Olive sewer rates to increase

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on December 9, 2005 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- The new Mount Olive Town Board has reaffirmed the previous board's decision to raise sewer rates to help pay for a regional sewer system that also would serve residents of Calypso.

Previous board members had agreed several years ago to increase the monthly base rate for sewer service to $27.50 when the project reached a point at which the additional money would be needed.

The new rate will take effect March 1. The current rate is $23 per month.

In 2003, Mount Olive voters approved the sale of $5 million in bonds to pay part of the cost of building the system. The federal government had offered to give the town a $4 million grant if the bond issue was approved. The government also told town leaders that sewer revenue would have to be high enough to pay off the debt.

The estimated cost of the new system is $11.5 million. The state has contributed $3 million.

Town Manager Ray McDonald asked the new board members Monday to reaffirm the commitment to the project. The six-member board has three new members who took their seats earlier this month.

The town's debt is spread out over 40 years. The town has taken out a short-term loan to get work on a new sewer plant started. McDonald said bids for the project have been advertised and contractors have already begun calling with questions. Bids will be opened Jan. 12 and town officials said they expect work to start in March. The plant is expected to be completed in a year.

The town's old sewer plant was built to handle 1 million gallons per day. But seepage into the aging lines had become so bad that during heavy rains the plant sometimes was forced to handle twice that much, officials said.

State and federal environmental authorities agreed to help with the project after the town embraced a regional plan and Calypso decided to participate.

The project started in July 2001 when the town received $3 million from the state.

The town has laid the lines to the town of Calypso, and home owners there have already begun hooking into the system.

The town bought the last of the 321 acres of spray field land needed for the effluent from the plant in April 2004 and started drawing down the money from the short-term construction loan the following month to get started on the regional system.