Sewer Company tax sale scheduled for this year

Fri, 01/17/2020 - 4:30pm

The Sewer Department will be sending out a courtesy notice in bills mailed in February that will notify customers that a tax sale is scheduled for this year.

Assistant Town Finance Director Mona Helterline made the announcement at the Water and Sewer Commission meeting on Monday, Jan. 13. Helterline said that accounts in arrears will receive the more formal 90 day notice in April.

This year’s tax sale is scheduled for July 24, 2020, Helterline said. Although customers can get up to date on their bills as late as the day before the tax sale takes place, customers who are in arrears will start to incur charges once the 90-day notice is issued.

“It’s not in anybody’s interest to incur all those fees,” said Helterline.

An advertisement listing the names and properties in the tax sale will be placed in the June 27, 2020 edition of The Block Island Times, Helterline said.

In other news at the meeting, Water Commission Chair Brad Marthens, said that the commissioners should get the word out about an upcoming Special Financial Town Meeting scheduled for March 23, 2020. At that meeting, a $2.3 million water main project will be on the ballot. The Town Council approved a motion to have town voters pay 25 percent of the total bill because the High Street/Payne Road line feeds into the downtown area and benefits the entire community.

“We just need to get as many people there as we can as we are pushing it,” said Marthens.

Water Company Supt. John Breunig said he would put a notice of the meeting into upcoming bills mailed to customers.

“We can also put it in sewer bills,” said Sewer Commission Chair Pete McNerney.

Breunig said that the High Street/Payne Road project was the only item on the warrant for that Special Financial Town Meeting.

Breunig said that he would also like to create a working group to help shape an upcoming rate design update. The attorney for the two commissions, Dave Petrarca, cautioned that any subcommittee or working group comprising more than one person is an official group and would need to post agendas and take meeting minutes.

“I don’t mind if it’s public,” said Breunig. Marthens and McNerney both expressed interest in serving on that subcommittee.

While Breunig was going through his monthly report, it was noted that water use so far for fiscal year 2020 was down by 3.3 percent. McNerney was curious as to what might have caused the drop.

“Three percent doesn’t seem like a lot, but why?” McNerney asked.

Breunig said that a large water user in town had installed waterless urinals, which contributed to the reduction.

“A lot of people are going waterless,” said McNerney.

“It’s the right move — for them,” said Breunig, but the overall water loss “is curious.” He said that water-efficient appliances were also now the norm.

“I was just curious,” said McNerney.

“I do a lot of thinking about it,” said Breunig.

In Sewer Company news, Supt. Dylan Chase asked permission from the commission to start looking into what he called a “resiliency grant” pertaining to the Ocean Avenue pump station.

Taking the long view, Chase said that he is planning for the effects of sea-level rise, or for what is often referred to as a “100-year flood” that would impact the pump station. He said the plan was to raise the pump station five feet, that would protect the pump and its controls.

“If the water comes up more than five feet we’ve got bigger problems than the pump station,” said McNerney.

“That is true,” said Chase. “That is true.” But he wanted permission to begin the application process for the resiliency grant, which was approved.

Chase said that he would also like to remove the boulders that surround the Old Harbor Pump Station because, aside from the aesthetics, “they create more of an obstacle” particularly if crews ever need to make an emergency call there. “They cause more harm than good,” said Chase.

He said that the boulders would be removed by Friday, Jan. 17.