Manhattan officials are optimistic about a proposal to connect Churchill to the towns sewage treatment facility after both sides met Thursday, but the devil is in the details, officials said.
The Amsterdam Sewer District lagoons are out of compliance with state regulations and the district board is looking at options to rectify that, engineer Jim Potts has said. According to engineering estimates, the cost of building a new facility for the Settlement or piping effluent to Manhattan both ring in around $4 to $5 million.
The latter option could stave off steep rate hikes in Manhattan if the two sides can agree on terms, Manhattan Mayor Tony Haag said. The town has been making interest-only payments on its new treatment plant under an agreement with the state that expires in July. At that point, Manhattan residents could be on the hook for $83-per-month sewer bills to cover the higher payments.
Both sides laid out their situations Thursday and discussed the logistics of piping sewage the six miles from the Amsterdam lagoons to Manhattan, Haag said. Engineers from both sides are scheduled to meet this week to crunch numbers and go over details of the proposal.
I think its important for both parties to answer any questions that could be asked, he said. The last thing we want is, 10 to 15 years down the road, to go back and say, We missed this and now we need you to do this. I dont want us to create sins for those who follow us.
Some of the key points are to find out how to charge Settlement residents for sewer service and whether to assess impact fees to the Amsterdam Sewer District, Haag said.
Manhattans town engineer, Dave Crawford, agreed. The deal, he said, looks good on the surface, but the town needs to ensure that current ratepayers wont bear any burdens.
My duty is to make sure the town of Manhattan is protected now and going forward into future and that we dont make any decisions now that will cause problems down the road, he said.
But high impact fees could be a deal-breaker, said Hank Dyksterhouse, chairman of the board of the Amsterdam Sewer District.
If we have to pay that fee then I dont know if we can make it work and may have to do our own thing, he said. Well have to wait and see until we meet again. The townspeople have to except this, too.
Some type of impact fee is necessary though, Crawford said.
Theres a lot of different numbers we have to look at relating to billing and fees, he said.
Even so, Amsterdam and Manhattan both are in a bind and the proposal could be a win-win for everybody, Haag said.
Both parties recognize the fact that we can be good for one another, he said. Ultimately, we want to make sure we take care of our citizens in Manhattan and get this thing paid for without selling our soul.
Both sides will meet March 18 to review and discuss the engineers report.