Residents Alarmed By Growing Costs of Sewer Project

The project, completed in 2006, could cost some residents twice what they were told when the sewer installation was first approved in 2004.

Town Council members will soon be faced with some tough decisions regarding how to pay for three completed sewer projects that threaten to leave local residents and business owners with bills nearly twice what they expected.

But residents aren’t going to just sit back and wait to be stuck with the added costs.

A half dozen families from along West Street and Williamsburg Drive appeared before the during its meeting Monday night to request that council members consider an option other than billing twice the estimated cost for Sewer Assessment 34, a project that involved installing sewers to about 72 businesses and homes in three sections of town.

“Certainly all of you would be appalled if I quoted you a service price and then doubled it, especially in this economy,” said Helen Henne, a resident whose mother’s property is one of those that could be adversely affected. “The town was dragging its feet on the project. Why should we be penalized for it?”

Delays in billing, excess costs for construction and other problems surrounding Sewer Assessment 34 have drawn attention in recent weeks during recent meetings of the council’s sewer sub-committee. The projects, which were finished in three phases, were completed in 2009 and involved the installation and connection to homes along West Street, Williamsburg Drive, Annelise Avenue, Skyline Drive, Cedar Drive and Reusnner Road.

When the council first approved the projects between 2004 and 2007, anticipated costs for residents were estimated at $60 to $70 per square foot of lineage on their property, with a one-time lateral fee of $750. But now residents are looking at much higher bills.

The project's assessments were first brought to the council for consideration in November 2011 by former Town Engineer Anthony Tranquillo, who was responsible for oversight, but Town Manager Garry Brumback asked council members to refer the assessments back to the sewer committee. The council voted unanimously to do so.

John Dobbins, chairman of the sewer sub-committee, said that after the projects were completed and fees were reassessed, the numbers were nearly twice what residents had been told. Property owners along West Street, which mostly has commercial property, are looking at fees of $131.23 per square foot and residents along Williamsburg Drive are facing charges of $126.15 per square foot.

Those in the third section of the project, which included Annelise Avenue and surrounding roads, are facing bills of $97.62 per square foot.

In addition, the lateral assessment fee doubled from $750 to $1,500 for a project that Williamsburg Drive resident and local developer Anthony Denorfia said Monday night should have been completed in a third of the time and at half the cost – if not even less.

“I don’t mind paying money to the town, we all should pay taxes, but nobody was watching this,” Denorfia said. “If the town was paying 240 (dollars) per foot to have a sewer going in, that’s insane. I’ve never paid that and never will. These costs are just totally out of line… From the beginning, at least with our section, this was totally mishandled.”

Denorfia, who has helped build numerous neighborhoods in the community, said the installation of gravity sewers should have cost between $40,000 and $50,000 in the Williamsburg Drive area, a cost that if split eight ways would have led to between $50 and $60 per square foot for residents.

The town is also seeking reimbursement for 60 hours of work by the engineering department in putting together blue prints for the Williamsburg Drive area, Denorfia said. He said Stephen Giudice, owner of Harry E. Cole & Sons, put the blueprints together at his request, however.

“When I went through the employee costs, a town draftsman put in for 60 hours to draft a plan. I gave a draft of it to him,” Denorfia said.

Beth Smedick, another Williamsburg Drive resident at Monday’s meeting, said that the costs also far exceed the work that has been done. When the project was initiated, Smedick said she was told that it would take a month to complete. Williamsburg Drive has since been repaved three times and continues to have problems, she said.

“I think the burden of a mistake like this need be directed back at (the engineering) department and addressed in that way, not put on the backs of the residents,” Smedick said.

Although the assessments suggest billing residents at nearly twice the rate suggested when the projects began, Council Chairman Edward Pocock III said the council must take action and determine how to best address the issue, but only after holding a public hearing. The hearing was approved by the council Monday and will take place at the next meeting, which is scheduled for Feb. 14.

A lot could change after the council has a chance to review all the information in detail, he said. Bills have not been sent to residents, council members confirmed.

“To get a hearing on the table, we need to approve the hearing with the numbers that have been given to us,” Pocock said. “That means that just because those numbers were what was suggested does not mean we are going to approve it as is.”

Jeffrey Coe January 24, 2012 at 11:32 AM
Humm, I'd be interested to hear from the one who seems to be the center of all this, Tony Tranquillo, before I start judging him to be the absolute devil incarnate. There were likely a lot of issues on the table, the sub-committee table, the sewer board table and the Town of Southington table that are probably being conveniently forgotten. Maybe Tony could point some fingers, too. Ultimately, the cost of the project needs to be paid for, unless fraud is suspected and we've seen that enough locally to not discount it. But given an honest effort, the bill needs to be paid and it would seem fair to charge the locals what was proposed (although I question had it been proposed higher at the outset, would they have had any other choice than to go ahead with it and pay the larger bill?). Then have the Sewer Department spread the cost of the rest amongst its other users who, as a group of sympathetic fellows, should willing to pitch in and help their neighbors in a bind. It seems simple enough but when the Pocockers are trying to make hay to justify Bumberg's firing Tranquillo, hey, you gotta work with what you got, right Ed?
Arthur Cyr January 24, 2012 at 03:34 PM
The fact that these projects were started in 2003-2004 and completed in 2005 to 2008 pretty much excludes nearly every current member of the Town Council of having any part in the planning, estimates or construction. Additionally, it is the Town Engineer who is responsible for compiling the facts and figures for billing. Unlike other posters, I have read the numerous information sheets of facts and figures that comprise Sewer Assessment #34 and attended most of the Sewer Committee meeting over the past two years. There appear to be numerous errors including costs not actually ever incurred as well as connection costs that were doubled after the fact. This is not an isolated case. Go ask about the engineering/sewer debacle known as the Pondview Drive pump station. Or maybe you are willing to continue to pay $600,000 in legal fees plus corrective construction costs for sewer and road projects that experienced engineers should have done properly if they were doing their job.
suddington January 25, 2012 at 12:28 AM
Where was Tony when he was supposed to be managing and overseeing this project? Howcome now all the extra costs come out of the woodwork now? I don't understand how he could have let it slip his mind that the costs for this project were mounting drastically without providing a solution to bring them down or examine why it was happening. In the end, this is typical of his type of work. This is only one of many of his projects that ended up the same way...
Arthur Cyr January 25, 2012 at 03:40 AM
Dear Editor - Since there is no BRN2RUN, or Invisible Man, or Jeffrey Coe listed in Southington land records, phone records or Google....... shouldn't these people that want to call our elected officials names be REQUIRED to use their real names?? Or at least put the CPA or ESQ after their fake names?
Steven Sensman January 25, 2012 at 11:25 AM
You forgot "suddington" and "meetingman" meetingman.
Gail Wilson January 25, 2012 at 11:38 AM
My husband and I used to live in town. We don't anymore after we moved to a few towns away. We have an unlisted phone number because of my ex. Mr. Cyr seems to be very hostile and preoccupied with who said what vs. what's being said. And true, he forgets about pseudonyms when the follow his slanted party line. Stick to the issues, Mr. Cyr, and leave your prurient interests to the gossip columns.
Arthur Cyr January 25, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Yes, "Gail Wilson", by all means, shoot the messenger. People that go to meetings, get involved and gives other people real information on the issues should be sniped at by people like you and BRN2RUN from the shadows under fake names. And if you truly don't live in Southington any more, you seemed to be unusually concerned with our current politicians and or people trying to finally change the decades of the "good old boys" network in Southington. Hmmm.


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