GREENVILLE — The cost to upgrade and extend the town’s water and sewer systems could increase by as much as $2 million, officials said Monday.
The water project would extend the system to 20 additional homes on Route 81 and replace a water storage tank, install a pressure-reducing valve and replace hydrants and valves. The project was originally estimated to cost a maximum $1,898,002. Under a resolution adopted unanimously by the town council Monday, the town is authorized to spend as much as $3,401,514, an increase of $1,503,512.
The water and sewer projects are being bid jointly. The sewer portion of the project includes upgrades and a new pump station built three years ago, which have been paid for through a 0% hardship loan and is being moved from short-term financing to long-term financing. The new portion of the sewer project, which would add more homes to the sewer system and other upgrades, increased by an expected maximum of about $500,000.
When bids were opened in June, the figures for both components of the overall project were significantly higher than anticipated.
“Almost a month ago, we opened five bids for the projects and they bid water and sewer together,” Town Supervisor Paul Macko said at a public hearing Monday. “Each one has its own specific price, but it was a total bid. The bids ranged from $2.5 million from Tech Industries of Troy, which was the low bidder, and the high bid was Luizzi Brothers of Schenectady, which was $3.5 million.”
The town council decided the bids were too high and is rebidding the project with a change, at the recommendation of one of the bidders — instead of refurbishing the existing water tank, which dates back to 1975, the town could replace it with a new, smaller glass-lined tank at a substantially lower cost.
The project was put out to bid again.
“We are opening bids again this Thursday at 2 p.m.,” Macko said. “We are anticipating they will be quite a bit lower.”
The hearing was held Monday to inform the public about the prospective higher costs of the project and to approve an increased amount of money the board is authorized to borrow, project manager Travis Smigel of Delaware Engineering said.
The final cost of the project — and how much it will cost homeowners — is unknown at this time, Smigel added.
“The purpose of the public hearing today is to increase the amount the town can borrow — it doesn’t mean they are actually going to spend that,” Smigel said. “We won’t know what our costs are until we receive bids on Thursday. We are setting a maximum of what the cost will be. We are hoping the prices are lower than that.”
If the project comes in at the maximum allowed under the resolution adopted unanimously by the town council Monday, residents in the water district will pay an additional $450 each year. That is on top of the quarterly $56 most residents pay for water usage up to 10,000 gallons. Properties exceeding 10,000 gallons a quarter pay more, but the vast majority pay the basic rate, Macko said.
Resident Chris Caprio said it might be better for the town to wait until rising prices begin to stabilize.
“I am wondering if, with the extensive rise in the cost, if we should just maybe chop this up and do some repairs now and in the future relook at the extension,” Caprio said. “We are talking over $1 million more than was proposed two years ago. That seems pretty costly. Everything is getting expensive now because of COVID. Would it not be something to think about at a future date when prices may steady again?”
Extending the water lines is only a small portion of the project, Town Councilman John Bensen said.
“That was the cheapest part of the whole thing,” Bensen said. “That is cheaper than putting in the tank, or the infrastructure to get to the tank. Way less.”
The project was originally going to be done about a year and a half ago, but was held up by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over issues with wetlands identified on the site, Bensen said.
“If we could have done this last fall, we would have been much better off, but we couldn’t do it,” Bensen said.
Once the town installs the extension pipes, it will be up to homeowners to have a contractor install the pipes needed to add their home to the water system.
Resident Martin Brand asked how much residents could expect to pay to add their home onto the system.
“It will vary house to house, depending on how far you have to go in (from the road),” Smigel said. “Folks that are closer to the road, you will be trenching less and using less pipe, and the costs will be down.”
Resident Barbara Conlon inquired about assistance for seniors.
“Will there be any help for low-income seniors to pay for this?” Conlon said.
There is assistance at the county level for expenses such as this, Macko said.
“Catskill Mountain Housing Authority offers help with the connections for low-income and seniors, people on a fixed income,” Macko said, adding he will ask a representative from the organization to attend the next meeting to let residents know about available assistance.
Resident Anita Zibora asked when work on the project is expected to begin.
“Most of the contractors have already picked their jobs for the 2021 construction season,” Macko said. “My hope is that if we can get them to do the site work for the water tank this fall, we can hit the ground running in the spring and get the tank in. That will go a long way. But probably the vast majority of this project — probably 85% to 90% of it — will be done next spring.”
The town council expects to hold an information session after bids come in, Macko said.
“Once we calculate the bids that come in on Thursday, I would like to have another informational meeting where we can narrow down these numbers and get a better indication of where we will be,” he said.