Enfield voters to decide sewer system upgrade

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 2/26/2020 10:08:26 PM
Modified: 2/28/2020 12:08:39 PM

ENFIELD — Voters next month will be asked to approve spending $3.8 million to replace and upgrade portions of Enfield’s aging water and sewer systems.

Water pipes first installed in 1903 are prone to breaks and growing evermore “problematic” to maintain, officials say.

Meanwhile, a recent assessment found that groundwater is making its way into Enfield’s sewer system, which flows into neighboring Lebanon’s sewer lines and is treated at the municipal treatment plant in West Lebanon.

“Lebanon is treating a volume that we’re not intending to put in there and of course that impacts us financially,” Enfield Town Manager Ryan Aylesworth said Wednesday.

Groundwater and overflows make up more than half of Enfield’s sewer flows, according to a study performed last year by Massachusetts-based firm DPC Engineering.

The same study found that 22 of Enfield’s 96 manholes require repairs. Another 18 could not be located and 43 were either paved over or inaccessible.

The Selectboard has put forward two warrant articles, each requesting $1.9 million to make repairs and upgrade municipal well systems. If approved, costs for the two projects would be paid by sewer and water users, not taxpayers, Aylesworth added.

However, the town intends to seek funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the work, with officials hoping that grants will cover 45% of the overall costs. If that fails, they’ll turn to long-term borrowing, which requires a ballot vote with 60% support to pass.

The Selectboard also proposes a roughly $6.93 million municipal budget for the coming year, which amounts to a 3.87% increase over current spending.

Officials say much of that increase can be attributed to additional payments on Enfield’s Route 4 sewer and water extension project. About $82,000 will be paid through tax increment finance, or TIF, funds on debt payments.

The spending plan also includes increased sewer rates to both match those set by Lebanon and prepare for future projects and maintenance, according to Aylesworth.

He added that the town budget maintains existing staff and service levels and accounts for a roughly 7% increase in health insurance costs.

“We want to recruit and retain high-caliber employees because the value of the work that we do, the quality of the work that we do will be shaped by those employees,” he said. “The benefits package that we provide is a big part of how we’re able to hold onto folks like that.”

If approved, officials estimate the budget would result in an 11- to 18-cent tax increase, or between $28 to $45 on a home valued at $250,000.

The warrant also requests $190,000, which would be paid over five years, to obtain four police cruisers through a lease-purchase agreement.

Meanwhile, the Selectboard hopes to spend $150,000 replacing a deteriorating bridge on Oak Hill Road near the intersection with Grafton Pond Road. That project would be financed by a 15-year bank loan.

Other warrant articles request approval to seek a $75,000 loan from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund for further study of the town’s wastewater system, with the principal to be forgiven; $48,000 for a new public works pickup truck; and $35,000 for funding of a new master plan.

On the ballot, Selectboard member John Kluge is running unopposed for another three-year term.

Five people are running for three open seats on the Budget Committee. Dimitri Deserranno, Phil Shipman, Nancy Smith, Dominic Albanese and Brian Degnan are seeking three-year terms.

Incumbent Library Trustee Francine Lozeau also is being challenged by Susan Brown for a seat on the three-member board.

Voting for Enfield’s town officers and the Mascoma Valley Regional School District budget and officers will take place from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 10, at Whitney Hall. Residents will vote on the remaining articles on the warrant, including the town budget, at a floor session beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 14, at the Enfield Village School.

Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@ v news.com or 603-727-3223.

Clarification

Warrant articles at Enfield's Town Meeting include a proposed $75,000 loan from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund for further study of the town’s wastewater system, with the principal to be forgiven, and a proposed five-year, $190,000 lease-purchase agreement to obtain four police cruisers. An earlier version of this story was unclear on some of the terms of the proposed articles.




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