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Sewer bills: $12,000-$13,000.

Byline: Lynne Klaft

LUNENBURG - Residents who live along the sewer lines in town will receive a final betterment assessment for the town's $13 million sewer project this month, and it could be as much as $12,000 or $13,000 per home.

Sewer commissioners are on the verge of compiling all of the final costs for the sewer line, which was completed last year, and dividing it up equitably among abutting properties.

The commission voted Tuesday night to assess the town $1.6 million of the final costs for municipal buildings.

"I had a conversation with the CAFO (Chief Administrative Officer Kerry A. Speidel) about the town's share, and she is content to live with that number," said commission Chairman William J. Gustus.

When the sewer project began eight years ago, residents and selectmen were told at town meeting it would cost $1.6 million. The work involved replacing the failing septic systems of municipal buildings in town center with a central plant and individual septic systems for outlying buildings, according to town meeting records.

The commission then discussed how much of the final cost should be deferred for future growth.

"We all understand that developing a system from scratch shouldn't just be charged against the people who are served by that system today. The whole project cost more because pipes were sized to accommodate potential, future users. How much of this total cost should we be deferring, that we won't collect from this set of people, to be charged to future users?" said Mr. Gustus to the commission members.

An analysis of potential future users on the existing line has been done by town officials. Estimated revenues from the analysis total about $1 million.

The commission voted to defer $1 million of the total cost of the completed project.

Most residents who own property on the sewer line have already received an estimated betterment assessment of $5,000. They will receive an additional, final betterment assessment of approximately $7,000 to $8,000 per unit.

A unit is the equivalency of a three-bedroom, single-family home. Commercial properties will be assessed according to the underlying zoning bylaws.

The final betterment assessment will be between $12,000 and $13,000 per unit.

The money can be paid off in a lump sum or over 20 years, taking advantage of a low interest state loan.

There are still a few costs that have not been added to the final total, hence the delay in the issuance of a final betterment assessment.

"We have concerns over the soft costs of the project, legal costs associated with the pump station easements and recording costs. We still have an issue with the Registry of Deeds," said Mr. Gustus.

The town is disputing Registry of Deeds requirements of a separate $75 fee for every address.

"Our position is that it is a single filing for all addresses, which would bring the recording cost down from $50,000 to $5,000. We won't get our fee cost back for the estimated betterments, but we will get it right this time," said Mr. Gustus.

The commission will meet again in mid-May to vote on final betterment assessments.

NAME: LUNENBURG SEWER COMMISSION
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:May 1, 2008
Words:533
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