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August 15, 2013

Town mulls costs of adding water district

By Mark Boshnack Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — Efforts to develop a water district for Oneonta’s Southside were discussed at Wednesday’s town board meeting.

In a request for information from board member William Mirabito, town Supervisor Robert Wood discussed some of the details of the plans. He is scheduled to meet with the county Industrial Development Agency today to seek $90,000 in funding for the $8.8-million project. That level of co-funding is necessary to qualify for state Environmental Facilities Corporation funding for the project.

Wood said he was hopeful that the EFC and the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development program would split most of the cost of the project with a combination of grants and low- or no-interest loans.

The town of Oneonta is pursuing a plan to develop the project proposed by Lamont Engineering, after it was found to be cheaper than a plan that would involve the city selling water from its system, Wood said.

The city plan called for $1.6 million, financed by water rates, for well upgrades and to build infrastructure to bring water to the Southside that is currently supplied by wells. The city offered to sell water at $2.43 per thousand gallons based upon 500,000 gallons of daily consumption. That would have cost the town about $443,475 a year. The city offered a fair rate that would have been at no extra cost to its taxpayers, Wood said.

“It’s an accurate reflection of their costs,” he said, adding he was glad the city was willing to get involved in the plan.

The alternative proposed by Lamont Engineering would cost $1.2 million for well construction, a control building and transmission lines. The water rate would be $1.17 per thousand gallons based on 157,000 gallons of consumption, which is about what is needed for current use. This would cost the town $67,000 per year. If consumption rose to 500,000 gallons the cost would drop to 70 cents per thousand.

Wood said he decided not to pursue a $90,000 loan from the city that had been the subject of some discussions because it was tied to water purchases.

Before the meeting, city of Oneonta Mayor Dick Miller said about the situation: “We’ve offered to help do whatever we can as soon as possible to spur economic growth. There have been a lot of informal talks and discussions but the ball is entirely in their court.”

In discussing the estimates, Wood said the numbers are very preliminary until the design work is completed. He was hoping that could be done in 2014 and the project would be completed in 2015.

After the meeting Mirabito said he was pleased with Wood’s explanation of the situation. He said he and the rest of the board are frustrated that a project that should be so beneficial is taking so long, but they realize how much dealing bureaucracy is involved.