Enfield Town Council hosts quarterly Q&A
By Lisa Stone - ReminderNews
Enfield - posted Wed., Aug. 28, 2013
The town of Enfield hosted its quarterly question and answer session with the Town Council and staff at Nathan Hale School on Aug. 26. The subjects discussed included armed guards in the schools and the new sewer fee system.
Elizabeth Davis wanted to know why there was not an open forum for the residents to discuss armed guards in the schools. Town Manager Mathew Coppler was quick to address that issue. “We are mandated by state law to have this open discussion about the sewer tax; however, the Board of Education was not mandated to do so. I cannot say why it didn’t happen,” he said.
“This is the safety of our children we are talking about. We have every right to be heard on this matter. It should be put to a vote,” said Davis. Most people in the room were openly agreeing with her.
Enfield Police Chief Carl Sferrazza was quick to stand up and answer questions that were asked about the hiring process of the armed guards. “They go through an extensive background check, as well as physical and psychiatric evaluations. We are not hiring people that cannot perform the physical duties that would be expected of them, and we want to be sure that they are proficient in handling a gun,” said Sferrazza. “This is a long process and we are sure the people are able to do their duties if called upon to do so.” Sferrazza encourages all residents to engage in a face-to-face discussion with him about this subject.
The new sewer fee system was the main focus of the meeting. Until now, the sewer tax has been a part of the annual property tax. The sewer plant is one of the many entities that function from the total tax collected. Other areas that are supported from this collection are the police, ambulance and school system. These other departments often take priority over the upgrading of the sewer system. The council’s solution to this problem is to have a separate tax for the sewer system based on usage.
Though the total cost of the sewer upgrades and repairs is $35 million, $3 million is needed now to get the repairs started on the pumps and sewer lines. This needs to be collected from property owners within one fiscal year. The current mill rate for the town is 29.26 and is set to increase by .47. When all is said and done, the average homeowner can expect to see an addition to their taxes of approximately $222.24. This is based on a consumption of 16,000 gallons of water per quarter. The rate for the sewer tax is projected to be $3.39 per kG (1kG is 1,000 gallons), and properties that use more than 20kG per quarter will be charged a rate of $5.08 per kG. This is to give residents the incentive to conserve water usage. The summer months will not be factored into the equation, due to expanded use of water for lawns and filling swimming pools. That water does not enter the WPCA. It is expected that the new regulations will be in place as of this August and will reflect on the Jan. 1 tax bills. At that point, the quarterly sewer fee bill will be reaching the homeowners.
The sewage treatment plant supervisor assured the committee and public that the upgrades are necessary. The pumps have a life expectancy of approximately 40 years, and the pumps in use now are much older than that. Additionally, the 250 miles of sewer pipelines will have to be replaced. There are many cracks in the pipes, which allow rain water to enter the system, therefore increasing the amount of water waste that enters the plant. Thompsonville is the worst area for this offense. The residents were reassured that the pipes will be replaced at the same time the upgrades are made to the plant.
Most residents in attendance seemed to understand that this was something that needed to be done. They just wanted to be sure of what exactly will be done and how much it was going to cost the average taxpayer.
One resident asked why the town was not being more aggressive about collecting delinquent taxes. Director of Finance Lynn Nenni stated that the town had already retrieved more than $700,000 in back taxes. She reassured the resident that they would be doing all they could to collect as much as possible. Nenni pointed out that on Aug. 27, many Enfield homes were being sold off at tax sales to help offset the taxes due. Still, the resident strongly suggested that the town put signs up on the front yards of any homeowner that was delinquent in their taxes.
For more information on sewer fee taxes, visit www.townofenfield.org.