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Sewer Assessment Process Begins for North Nichols

The Trumbull Water Pollution Control Authority held a public hearing Nov. 20 at Frenchtown School. The average assessment, payable over time, is about $22,600 per home, said First Selectman Tim Herbst.

A recent two-hour public hearing on sewer construction bills for North Nichols left residents with more questions than answers.

The Trumbull Water Pollution Control Authority took questions from the public and promised answers in about two weeks following the Nov. 20 meeting, according to meeting minutes. The hearing took place in Frenchtown Elementary School.

WPCA Vice Chairman Egri said the first payment would be due next July, which is July, 2013. Another hearing is scheduled for Dec. 12.

First Selectman Tim Herbst said in a statement Wednesday: "The assessments proposed by the WPCA in 2012 for North Nichols are actually lower than they would have been in September of 2009, when this project was started under the Baldwin Administration.  In fact, the total amount being assessed on homeowners today is $516,000 less than it would have been in 2009.  The average assessment in 2009 would have been $23,275.  The average assessment being proposed by the WPCA today is $22,656."

The method for calculating the assessment was criticized. Forty-one people spoke at the hearing.

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  • Another concern was an increase in the charge per linear foot. William Bevecqua, of 30 Partridge Lane, said echoed the "resentment and outrage that is expressed tonight. When this project started we were looking at $100 a linear foot now I’m paying $162 a linear foot and that is a 62% increase. That is an outrage and is unconceivable. This has to stop and this has to change and needs to be brought down to where it is acceptable," the minutes state.
  • Jennifer Gerlach, of 90 North St., said her property was not on the original plan. "They bought the house in 2006 and was not told about the sewers at that time and they found out two years later and she wanted to know who should have told her about sewers being installed," she told the authority.
  • Ron Johnson, 34 Turkey Meadow Road: "Since the project started it has been a fiasco since day one. There have been huge trucks on his lawn, they knocked down 2 of his lamps, there was a porta-potty and other sewer debris on the corner for a year and a half, and he can’t sell his home because of the condition of the area."
  • "[Public Works Director] John Marsilio explained the cost of the roads and the cost of the storm drains are not in the assessments and you will see a complete breakdown of all costs on the spreadsheets and it will be clear that the Town has retained costs of storm drainage and paving."
  • Robert Vonstein, 133 North Stowe Place: "A few years ago when he received his first letter about this he was given an estimate of approximately $22,000 and he now received one of almost $29,000. He is being charged for 175 feet of frontage and the pipe that runs into his property from the street is about 15 feet."

The town will pay 25 percent of the total bill, as has been done in the past. The completion of the project represents the end of years of sewer installations in Trumbull.

North Nichols work is governed by Contract IV. Contract III, or the Jog Hill Road area, is problematic because the town and the WPCA is suing Mark IV, the construction company, for alleged defects in the road requiring more than $8 million to repair.

An engineering firm, Tighe & Bond, found the problems in Contract III, and has been overseeing Contract IV. Some town officials and former town officials have questioned the firm's cost.

The WPCA listed every property owner who would be billed (see attached pdf too). More details of the hearing are available in the meeting minutes.

Dickey Looster November 29, 2012 at 11:16 AM
This is disgusting!!! All of it!! So much money being spent on raw sewage when the children need a new dance club. Where are the days of recycling our own sewage? So much money would be saved if we just use our brains as a community and come up with a public sewer pit.
Billy B November 29, 2012 at 01:21 PM
While I agree that it is disgusting, I don't really think the basis of your argument should be 'children need a new dance club'!
Billy B November 29, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Also, this meeting was a joke, a ruse to let the town say they 'informed' the public. In fact, they offered no answers. You would think an important issue as this would have had the First Selectman Herbst's attention. He didn't even bother to show up. Not only that, but he doesn't care enough to return phone calls. But I really don't expect anything from elected officials anymore!
denise huertas November 29, 2012 at 01:33 PM
I have only lived in Nichols for 2 1/2 yrs but when I purchased my home (April 2010) I was told by both the home owners and both realty agents that we would be hooked up to the sewers no later then Nov. 2010 and that the estimated cost every three months would not exceed $350 - after Nov 20, 2012 meeting at French Town I am now looking at an estimate cost of $1,100 every three months and with a $2,600 a month mortgage now way can I afford to pay this assesment. I also have to find a contractor to hook me up to this sewer pipe line at my own cost. Our neighborhood has meet with several to see if we can get a group rate and mine hook up will cost me an additional $2,400. I was not around from the beginning but sitting in that meeting on the 20th I feel sorry for all of the residents whose nightmare hasn't ended and mine has just begun. A large amount of us walked out of the meeting because Selectman Herbst was not there and the board would not answer any questions - we were told they would get back to us in two weeks - ya just enough time to pass this accessment and say oh sorry its done to bad. The mood of the group and I hope it still stands today is that the entire est. 995 families in Nichols DO NOT PAY THIS - LET THE TOWN ISSUE 995 LIENS ON THE HOMES IN NICHOLS. When we all sell the Town of Trumbull can collect the accessment funds then.
John November 29, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Denise, Not a big fan of the cost of this either but your estimated cost of $1,100 every 3 months is not correct. It is actually close to the $350 you indicated your realtor told you. A quarterly payment on average assessment of $22.6K @ 2.75% interest would be about $370. Obviously, if your assessment is closer to $29K the quarterly charge would go up to about $470 which is much lower than your stated $1,100.
denise huertas November 29, 2012 at 03:26 PM
John, Thank you for the est. All I know is residents near my home had bills and the cost was $1,100 I guess I will have to wait and see what my real cost will be but still this is crazy to have such an expensive project. I was also told that in the beginning the cost started as $4000 per house then went to $6 or $7000 then to $14,000 now we have a cost of $23,000 per household how is this fair and again I am only going on what I heard and was told at the French Town meeting.
Dickey Looster November 29, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Agreed! I was not thinking correctly when I wrote that......I am just very upset with this whole thing. How is no one on the same page as far as cost and the future of our sewage? Thank you for pointing out my silly idea of a youth dance club. Better that you point it out than the old battle ax at home.
denise huertas November 29, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Dickey, It wasn't me that pointed out about the dance remark it was John. I do agree with you that the money could be better spent on various sporting venues for our children.
Ted November 29, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Has anyone brought up the point that if these cost are based (partly) on what the Town was charged from Mark IV, and the Town is suing Mark IV for for being overcharged, then are not the figures they are giving inaccurate? Also if the work Mark IV has done in other areas were the result of overcharging are not some of the other phases entitled to a refund. Can't have it both ways, if Mark IV overcharged the Town, then the Town has overcharged us all on the assessments!
denise huertas November 29, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Great point Ted. And if the lawsuit is won or settled then each and every family in Trumbull should get a cut of the lawsuit funds.
HL November 29, 2012 at 06:09 PM
We had sewers put in many years ago, and I also found out about the sewer plan only after I had bought the home (the sellers kept it secret from us, and we got a letter in the mail a few months after moving in that said what our sewer assessment bill was). Needless to say that extra quarterly expense has really hurt, and still hurts today years later. So much so that we still haven't been able to afford hooking up to this thing we are paying for every quarter.
M Shapiro November 29, 2012 at 08:05 PM
As a member of the Board of Finance that approved this sewer project I say that the $22,600 average figure is certainly close to the estimates we were given in the planning stage. As I see it the town is subsidizing an additional portion of this project and some residents may take exception with that but from all I've seen the assessments are reasonable in view of what was presented to town boards years ago. As for the lawsuits I think they were begun on a faulty premise. Mark IV is a fine and fair contractor. As the town has taken no action on it since it asked and received a continuance last February I'm assuming the town plans to let it die. I am hopeful that as Herbst has acted far more responsibly with regard to this contractor that perhaps in time the Mark IV will assist in some issues that the town should have brought to its attention during the warranty period. The owner of Mark IV has always been very supportive of the town of Trumbull. I'm hoping they will be again.
Tom Kelly November 30, 2012 at 04:01 AM
Denise, if you saw a quarterly bill for $1,100, it could be due to outside water usage during the summer by someone with an irrigation system. But that seems extemely high for one quarter unless they water a huge lot. The WPCA changed the way they bill residents for spring and summer OUTSIDE water usage this year, which NEVER enters the sewer system. They used to use the average of the fall and winter quarters in spring and summer so they wouldn't bill residents for outside water use that doesn't go in the sewer pipe, like irrigation, pools, gardens, car washing, etc. This change of billing resulted in a huge increase in payments for many Trumbull residents.
Steven Castro December 01, 2012 at 02:20 AM
Imagine the world without sanitary sewer?
denise huertas December 01, 2012 at 07:07 PM
I did not see a bill for that amount other people at the meeting had those bills and when I attended the First Selectman's meeting on Thursday they found out what those bills were - they had nothing to do with the sewer it was sent out in error. Thank you for your explaintion of what it may have been
lora February 15, 2013 at 02:28 PM
Hi everyone - We are looking at a home in North Nichols area of Trumbull. Is hooking up to the city sewer (instead of continuing to use the septic system already in place at the home) a town mandate? Thanks

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