Mayor Joseph Solomon wants to see the numbers before endorsing the Bayside sewer project that would bring sewers to 937 homes, many of which depend on cesspools and outdated septic systems. But Ward 5 Councilman Ed Ladouceur says homeowners have waited long enough and the longer sewers are delayed the more expensive the project will be for residents.
Meanwhile, the Warwick Sewer Authority is seeking Department of Environmental Management certification of the designed project and plans to move ahead with bid specifications for the directional drilling project.
“If by moving ahead you’re telling me they’re obtaining those details with the cost and assessment per homeowner, yes, I’m in agreement with that. But am I in agreement with the project? Not until I get the cost of that project and the alternatives to that,” Solomon said in an interview Wednesday.
Solomon wants to see all the alternatives explored, including individual septic systems and septic systems serving more than one residence. He said his primary concern is what sewers is going to cost homeowners in assessments. He said he has heard projections as high as $30,000.
“I don’t know what the actual numbers are. So, yeah, if going out to RFP [request for proposals] will get us an actual number, then it would be my suggestion they go out for RFP,” he said.
“We’ve got to stop screwing around with this thing and get it done,” Ladouceur said Sunday when told of Solomon’s hesitance to back the project. He noted that not only will the cost of sewers increase with time but so also will septic systems that he put in the range of sewer assessments.
As he has advocated, Ladouceur said the city should offer relief to homeowners facing sewer assessments by underwriting the cost of repaving roads impacted by sewer construction. Having the city pick up repaving costs could shave as much as 20 percent off assessments, he said.
And now that Solomon is looking to borrow $16.4 million for road projects and to convert street lighting to LEDs at a savings in operating costs, Ladouceur sees all the more reason that the city should pay for repaving after a sewer project is completed. He said roads are services for all people and that homeowners should have to pay for them as part of their sewer assessment.
“If we’re going to borrow for roads and all the taxpayers are paying for them, then the city should cover the cost of roads on sewer projects,” he said.
Solomon says he hasn’t a firm grasp on the cost of Bayside sewers.
“I was first presented an initial range that continues to increase. I know you’re not going to be able to nail it down to the penny, but I need a good, solid approximation before I can encumber those homeowners and try to do what’s best and most cost-feasible for them to be able to afford and remain in their houses,” he said.
He added, “Not only does the mayor want to know what the approximate cost is going to be, but I want each and every homeowner in that area to know what the approximate cost is going to be – because that’s fair to them too. You don’t want to blindside them too.”