Sewer meeting ‘good start in right direction’

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SIGN ON — Resident Nick Rochester said he will sign up for the sewer connection incentive program and urged others to do the same at a meeting about the program held Wednesday, June 14.

OXFORD — Hookup now and save money was the message Interim Town Manager Becky Lippincott gave to more than 50 people who packed the selectmen’s meeting room at the Oxford Town Office on Wednesday night, June 14, to hear details of a sewer hookup incentive program.

CONNECTION — Residents crowd around Interim Town Manager Becky Lippincott to look at information pertaining to their residence following a meeting on the town’s sewer connection incentive program on Wednesday, June 14.

“I for one am hooking up. Who’s with me?” shouted out resident Nick Rochester as he threw his arms in the air and asked for others to join him.

Residents attended to hear the details of the program but 24 hours later Lippincott reported only one person had come to the Town Office to sign up.

“It was a good start in the right direction,” Lippincott told selectmen at the board’s Thursday, June 15 meeting. “It will take time and patience. But we’ll get there.”

Only 22 customers currently support the $28.5 million wastewater treatment plant and local officials say they need more. Customers are the billing account and do not necessary count as one user. A customer, such as the Hampton Inn, is counted as 50 users, for example.

While residents are not mandated to hook up to the town system if their system is operating properly, the program is an incentive to save them substantial hookup costs. If a system fails the resident will be mandated to hook into the system.

“We’d like to make it as easy and affordable as possible,” said Lippincott.

Residents have two years to take advantage of the incentive program or run the risk of having to pay more than a $1,000 hookup fee after that.

Last year voters approved transferring $250,000 from town funds to provide $500 subsidies for hookups through a revolving loan fund managed by selectmen.

Lippincott said the hookup costs would probably range between $500 and $5,000, based on variables ranging from topography to electrical service and distance from the street. But users must hire an electrician and plumber to connect the lateral line to the house and decommission the old septic system. Residents can dig the ditch to lay the 6-inch pipe themselves to save money.

Residents on metered water were told the average cost to be on the town sewer system would be $112.50 per quarter or $450 per year plus $2 for every 100 cubic foot of water used.

For those on unmetered water, they would pay $152.50 per quarter at an annual cost of $610, plus $2 for every 100 cubic foot of water used, Lippincott said.

She gave an example of a home with two users on metered water would be $900 annually.

The actual costs are determined by the number of users and water usage.

According to information at the meeting, there is no application fee but a $40 minimum plumbing permit fee must be paid.

Lippincott said that Everett Excavation, the firm that worked on some of the project, is available to inspect a residence and give an estimate of what it will cost to hook up into the system.

The sewer connection incentive program was developed as a way to get more users to the system to support the wastewater treatment plant operationally and financially.

On Saturday, June 10, annual town meeting voters OK’d raising and appropriating $1.27 million for the wastewater treatment account, in large support to pay a portion of the 20-year bond that financed construction of the plant.

The anticipated number of users by the end of the first year have not been met and grants were not available to financially offset some of the cost.

Applications for sewer service installation are now available at the Town Office on Pleasant Street.

ldixon@sunmediagroup.net