It was hardly a $425,000 mistake like the project that cost the town nearly a quarter million dollars earlier this year, but taxpayers will again find themselves fronting the bill after members of the Southington Town Council was left with little choice but to make adjustments to sewer assessment #35 on Monday.
The council voted 8-0, with Councilman John Barry absent, to approve a measure that would leave the town on the hook for $17,000 in costs by lowering sewer assessments in the Mt. Vernon Road area and adjusting rates to be levied on over a dozen properties.
The town has now taken on $255,000 in costs, which will be absorbed using the sewer fund according to Southington Town Manager Garry Brumback, as a result of gross overruns and misinformation provided to residents of the two sewer assessments. The decision Monday represents the end of outstanding projects, officials said.
“The last chapter is sitting right here,” said Councilman Peter Romano, who said the council now has to focus on developing a more contemporary policy that would provide a fair solution to existing sewer policies.
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The council this year has been challenged to deal with the two projects, both which upset residents who saw bills much higher than anticipated after costs for sewer installation exceeded anticipations in four areas of town.
A hearing in February led to public outcry after costs for projects well exceeded the anticipated dollar amounts for sewer assessment #34. The projects affected residents of West Street, Williamsburg Drive, Annelise Avenue, Skyline Drive, Cedar Drive and Reusnner Road.
Residents in these areas were given estimates that there costs would be in the range of $65 to $80 per square foot with a one-time fee of $750 to connect to the town’s sewer lines.
By the time they received their bills late last year, however, residents on West Street were assessed a cost of $131.20 per linear foot, those in the second part of the project on Williamsburg Drive were assessed at $126.15 per linear foot and the remaining residents in the third section of the sewer installation were assessed at $97.62 per linear foot.
Although the costs for sewer assessment #35 weren’t quite as prolific, they still exceeded expectations and led to angst from local residents.
“All I am looking for is a fair assessment,” said Mary LaPorta Hupper, a resident of Mt. Vernon Road. “That wasn’t what I saw when my bill arrived.”
To adjust fairly, Town Councilman John Dobbins said several adjustments were made to reassess certain properties who may have experienced hardship and excessive bills as a result of the projected costs, including a recommendation from town staff for 19 proposed deferrals, 12 properties with adjusted assessments and exceptions for 12 rear lot properties.
The next step, Dobbins said, is to look at what went wrong and make appropriate adjustments to assure the problem doesn’t happen again.
“I’m looking forward to seeing something good come from the committee,” Romano said.
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