Petition circulating to put Fraser Sanitation decision on the ballot
December 28, 2008
I am writing this for the residents and property owners of Fraser.
You may have heard rumblings about the Town of Fraser wanting to take over the functions of the Fraser Sanitation Distlict. There are pros and cons to such a change.
Some of us are circulating a petition to cause this decision to be put to a vote of the people.
From attending Fraser Sanitation District and Town of Fraser board meetings, I have learned about this issue.
The Fraser Sanitation District (FSD) is currently the plant manager for the Joint Facilities Operating Committee (JFOC), which is made up ofthree special districts that use and operate the wastewater treatment ptant north of Fraser.
The managing agency can come up for a vole by the JFOC yearly. The JFOC is oriented to special districts rather than a municipality.
Currently, the decision regarding dissolution is up to the boards of the FSD and the Town of Fraser. A successful petition for election would allow the decision to be made by the people of the district in an election.
If the FSD is to be dissolved, the Town of Fraser would take over the providing of services and the FSD’s assets. The FSD bas been fiscally responsible and foresighted. The FSD has accumulated money for line repair replacement as well as money for future increased capacity (larger Jines, more lines, expanded plant or a new plant). Part of these funds will be used to repay the FSD bonds. The remaining approximately $2 million would become an asset of the Town.
State statute says the funds shall be used to reduce the rates, fees and charges fixed by the Town to finance sewer services. There are many ways this can be interpreted. The Town presently indicated it would keep the money separate from any of its other funds in an Enterprise fund. However, new ideas, situations and/or people could change that.
Of concern is that this sanitation money could be used for water services which are currently subsidized by the Town’s general fund. Also, some of the Sanitation money could be used for public works equipment that the Town deems is used for sewer services. Funds remaining in enterprise accounts at the end of the fiscal year may be put into reserve funds to finance or in support of enterprise operations that are not self sustaining.
The town water is an enterprise operation that is not self sustaining. What if the Town used that money instead of general fund money to support the water service? There could be no reserves left for repairs or increased sewer capacity. You know we will then be asked to fund that.
Other issues for consideration are: The manner in which new line solicitations are done. Presently, an engineer hired by the FSD must inspect and certify new lines before the District will accept them. Upon dissolution, the developer or property owner’s representative will be doing the inspections.
Upon dissolution, the Town might have to accept an existing line which does not meet standards that the FSD has not accepted. There would be costs to the town residents (us), rather than the developer for that line to become useable.
Another interesting concern is that property owners who do not live within the town will not be able to vote on anything.
Currently, there is some checks and balances with two entities to weigh in on line layout.
This issue raises another question which is why does the FSD not take over water from the Town? One reason may be that the water system is not financially solvent.
As previously stated, there are pros and cons to both scenarios.
If the people decide, at least if things don’t happen to our liking, we had a say.
Educate yourself. Sign a petition. And vote.