Water Company to stress importance of new project

Sat, 12/21/2019 - 9:15am

With the Town Council throwing its support for a special Financial Town Meeting to vote on a $2.3 million water main, the Water Company is now in a waiting game with the federal government for grant monies to support the project.

Water Company Supt. John Breunig told the members of the Water and Sewer Commssions that he had submitted documents needed so far to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has grant monies available that could reduce the local cost of the project by about $1 million. Breunig said the application itself to the USDA was nearing completion, but added there were funding hurdles on the federal end that needed to be resolved.

A date for the special Financial Town Meeting has not yet been set, but it will have to be scheduled before March 19, 2020 in order for the district to be eligible for those federal monies. The Town Council also approved language that would have taxpayers pay for 25 percent of the project due to the water main’s importance to the entire community.

Breunig and Water Commission Chair Brad Marthens said that information should be provided to the public prior to the special FTM emphasizing why the cost was being shared with the entire community, rather than limited to just water company ratepayers. Breunig said the High Street/Payne Road water main, if it failed, would “mean loss of water to the downtown area.” There were emergency repairs to the water main last summer.

In his report to the commissioners, Breunig wrote, “It is now up to the voters to decide the 25 percent participation on the loan. I will do my best to make our ratepayers and taxpayers aware of the benefits of attending the [Special Financial Town Meeting and] voting ‘yes’ on this question. I plan on having a note in our bills leading up to the SFTM and send out letters to our voting ratepayers. The commission needs to talk up this initiative with voters to gain public support for this project and the importance of the water main replacement.”