Colchester residents say they won't be able to afford sewer rates of $50 per month. That's the maximum amount the city would have to charge if it has to finance the entire $4.2 million dollar cost of a sewer repair project that is being mandated by the federal EPA.
The city held a public hearing as part of the grant application process. The city is hoping to qualify for at least $1.1 million from the USDA's Rural Development program. The application must be completed by July 15th.
Most of audience members told members the city council and the city's engineering firm that they are on fixed incomes and are already having a hard time.
Steve Altenbern is a retired state employee who says state cuts are already straining his budget.
He says, “Our health insurance costs are going up due to bills already passed by our state legislature. So this is an additional burden that will be difficult to assimilate.”
Altenbern says the unfunded mandate would be a “terrible burden” for the community. Several other residents said the federal EPA should provide funding
Two said they might have to move if the rates go higher.
The city has contracted with Benton and Associates to handle the application process. Greg Hillis told residents the comments would be included in the application to demonstrate the need for grant funding for the project.