Phase 2 of Dawn wastewater system OK’d
By Tim Cox/Editor
MILFORD – County officials have made significant progress collecting unpaid user fees and penalties from residents connected to the Dawn decentralized wastewater system, according to a consultant.
Forty-six of the system’s 186 customers or 25 percent had been delinquent, but the efforts of county staff have reduced the number to 7 percent, Eldon James told the Boar of Supervisors at its regular meeting on Tuesday of this week.
Now, all but 13 of the delinquent customers have made payments or arrangements for a payment plan, James told the supervisors.
James appeared before the board about proposed changes to an ordinance that would give county officials more methods to collect payments and penalties from people who are served by the Dawn wastewater system.
The proposed ordinance will make the administration of the Dawn system consistent with the county’s centralized wastewater system, establish the second phase area of the system, and set availability charges, said James, summarizing the effects.
The board voted 3-2 to approve the proposal. Supervisors Calvin Taylor, Floyd Thomas, and Reggie Underwood voted to pass the measure; Supervisors Jeff Black and Jeff Sili voted against it. Supervisor Wayne Acors was absent.
Sili asked how many homes with failed septic systems would benefit from phase two of the project, but James could not provide a number. The Health Department does not know that number, he suggested, because people know that if they report a failed system they would be required to correct it.
In response to a follow-up question from Thomas, James noted that 20 homes without complete indoor plumbing benefitted from the first phase of the project.
Phase two will serve about 30 additional homes and will cost an estimated $686,000. The county’s share of the cost will be $193,000, and the supervisors agreed in the past to allocate that amount.
The supervisors gave initial approval to the proposed ordinance in February, then held a public hearing on it in February.
The changes to the ordinance also establish a grant-supported, incentive-based fee structure to encourage new customer connections.
The decentralized Dawn wastewater system, which began operating in 2008, was constructed in part to address a public health concern. The community is knows for soils that drain poorly, and some homes had failing septic systems that in turn were contaminating wells; other homes even lacked indoor plumbing. The project was coupled with another project that rehabilitated and refurbished some substandard homes in the community.
The supervisors received no public comments about the proposed changes to the ordinance during the public hearing they held in March.
Joseph Schiebel, the county’s interim utilities director, informed the supervisors in March that a number of customers of the Dawn wastewater system have been tardy on their monthly bills, and in some cases the penalties that have accrued exceed the amount of their unpaid user fees by two-fold or three-fold. Sixteen customers owe the county more than $1,000 in unpaid user fees and penalties, and 21 owe more than $500.
The county is owed about $47,000 in unpaid user fees and penalties by customers on the Dawn wastewater system, Schiebel explained later. Penalties account for $28,000, and regular monthly sewer charges, $19,000.