"You go to the dentist and he says you have a little cavity here that I would like to fill," Miller said Wednesday. "You think it's $120 -- I don't want to do this. I'll wait until it bothers me. It bothers you a little bit, you ignore it. Six months later the dentist says it's no longer a filling... you need a root canal and a cap for $1500. That's what we're looking at here. it's not going to be cheaper, and there's going to come a time when you have to do it."
Miller said that the State can require a community to construct sewer when growth and environmental considerations warrant it. She said that being caught by circumstances in ten years would certainly be more costly.
She reported Wednesday that the plan will not be complete berofre the next Town Board meeting. The finished report is needed before the board can vote on creating a public interest order that will start the district formation process. She added that enough information is already available to begin work on a State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR). Meanwhile, the committee is developing a plan for rolling out information about the project.
The two involve lengthy processes that are necessary to create the proposed town-wide sewer district. Miller said the Map Plan and Report may be completed by the 20th, and that may mean the Board could vote to create a public interest order at their March 27th meeting.
Sewer Committee members said they do not think a negative declaration of environmental impact will be possible, even though the sewer is expected to reduce contamination of Cayuga Lake. One of the questions on the SEWQR asks whether the project is likely to create controversy. Committee members acknowledged that the project probably will.
Miller says she will start with a short blurb in the next Town newsletter, scheduled for the end of this month. The committee is considering a few large public meetings followed by a series of neighborhood visits. Plans include posting questions asked at these sessions along with answers on the Town Web site.
Committee members hope to encourage homeowners to host neighborhood meetings at which small groups can meet with a Sewer Committee member or town official to get questions answered about how their neighborhood will benefit.
A PowerPoint presentation outlining the benefits will also be condensed into a handout that will lay out tangible, monetary, and intangible benefits in a clear, understandable manner. A simple post card with the main bullet points is also being considered.
Miller reported that Lansing Schools Business Administrator Mary June King gave a very effective presentation on how sewer will benefit the schools and mitigate rising school taxes. The presentation was part of a community forum on the school budget and advocacy held at Lansing High School last week.
With the value of the Cayuga Power Plant (formerly AES Cayuga) diminishing each year and reductions in state aid school revenues have taken a big hit in recent years. Last year about 3% of the rise in the school tax levy were a result of the power plant's value going down. All three of the district's septic systems are due for replacement, and school officials are hoping they will have a sewer to hook up to, rather than spending $1.5 million to replace them.
The committee also discussed lengthening the hookup requirement from five years to ten to provide relief for property owners with newer septic systems.
The town-wide (not including the Village of Lansing), two-tiered plan would cost less than $500 per year for tier one properties receiving service, and about $30 per $100,000 of property value for those in tier two (outside the initial service areas). Because of Town tax cuts in recent years, Councilman Ed LaVigne observed that would bring taxes back to what people paid in 2010.
The Town Board is expected to begin the SEQR process at their February 20 meeting.