Residents will decide on $3.3 million in town’s sewer system upgrades
Haughton residents will vote Nov. 6 on a $3.3 million bond to fund a sewer system upgrade.
Mayor Carlton Anderson encourages residents to vote yes, saying in a letter to the Press-Tribune, “In the next five years, there are approximately 273 houses and a new school already on the drawing board to be built. With the increase of homes and school, our sewer system is not adequate to accommodate this growth. The town is at least five years behind in getting the sewer plant updated.”
Brad Graff, city engineer, previously told the Press-Tribune that even with the new system, due to the rate of growth of the area, the system will need to be updated in less than 15 years.
“The town is in great need of upgrading the sewer system. The town has grown tremendously in the last 20 years, and with this growth there are issues on the size and condition of the sewer plant being sufficient for this growth,” Anderson's letter stated.
The Town Council originally planned to vote on the bond until a resident petition presented in a February town council meeting asked for the public's vote to approve the issue.
The signatures of 50 registered voters on the petition represented their desire to have the council only borrow half from the Department of Environmental Quality and pay the other half from the town's cash reserves to cover the remaining cost. Last year's financial audit showed the town has unrestricted cash reserves of approximately $4.770 million.
In a letter to the Press-Tribune asking voters to turn down the proposition, resident Don Pratt pointed out the town's administration refused to spend any of its reserves on the sewer upgrade but since the petition, have earmarked $1.467 million in capital outlay for a new town hall complex.
“In essence, the mayor and council want you to vote a bond issue so they can build a $1.4 million complex. Their choice was simple, a new town hall complex for them or higher sewer rates for you,” the letter said. “After all $1.4 million is only an additional increase of $4.20 on your monthly sewer bill. Now the choice is yours, a $15 minimum/$25 average sewer bill or a $10.80 minimum/$20.80 average sewer bill.”
Graff told the Press-Tribune in February residents shouldn't see a rates drastically increase on the bond. Rates had already increased earlier this year in anticipation of the new sewer system.
Anderson's letter noted another reason why the upgrade is necessary is because Haughton has been out of compliance with DEQ for several years.
“The town has put in a lot of effort and expense to keep our system in compliance,” it said.
A previous feasibility study investigated the possibility of tying on to the new parish-wide sewer district. The city decided against joining due fear of future rate increases and the $3 million cost to just tie onto the system.
Under the loan, the city would obtain the money at .95 percent interest for 20 years. Anderson said in the letter that he is optimistic that it can be paid off in 10 years' time.
The upgrade would take roughly one year.