Fayette's sewage treatment system short of cash 5.20.09

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Paying for sewage treatment services in Fayette is headed down an unsustainable path as expenses continue to outpace revenue.

Village officials aren’t in agreement about how to address the issue, but council is hoping residents will offer some direction at the May 28 meeting.

Council voted in 1994 to charge a quarterly sewer enhancement fee to build a fund for maintenance and replacement of the sewage system. In recent years the fund has been used to pay off the long-term debt from work done so far in the combined sewer separation project and to cover the cost of unexpected repairs.

The fee brings in more than $50,000 a year, said village administrator Amy Metz, but the village continues to dip into the fund just to pay for operation of the sewage system.

Council heard the first reading Thursday of a proposal to boost sewer fees by nine percent.

“We need a public discussion about this,” said councilor Jerry Gonzales.

At a May 11 meeting of the Finance Committee, council member Paul Shaffer pointed out that council voted to renew two levies at their current levels rather than seek a replacement that would bring the levies up to current property levels.

That decision, Shaffer said, was due to an impending nine percent increase in the water and sewer fees. That increase was never put into effect.

Gonzales suggested placing the issue on the November ballot to give citizens the opportunity to decide about an increase. He believes an increase would be a burden on the public due to high unemployment.

Metz was not in favor of continuing to allow the sewage system to operate at a loss. Gonzales suggested a three percent increase, but Metz countered with nine percent—three percent for each of the last three years.

Village financial officer Lisa Zuver told committee members that council has an obligation to run the village in a fiscally responsible manner.

Metz said the nine percent change would bring an increase from $111.62 a quarter to $118.74 for a typical user.

  • Front.little Ball
    Fayette's Demetrious Whiteside (left)Skylar Lester attempt to keep the ball from going out of bounds during Morenci's recent basketball tournament for fourth and fifth grade teams. Morenci's Andrew Schmidt stands by.
  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
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  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

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