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A crowd of about 70 residents at a public hearing Wednesday seemed pleased with Supervisor Timothy E. Demler's plan to bring sewer service to every home in the town not already connected.

The $7,198,000 project to serve 366 homes would begin next spring and take about three years to complete, if the Town Board approves it. Demler said a vote will be taken in late August or early September.

The first phase of the work involves 62,625 feet of sewer line to serve 252 homes on Lockport, Shawnee, Mapleton, Slusaric, and Loveland roads. The second phase, 37,500 feet, covers 114 homes on Lockport, Raymond, Baer, and Hoover roads.

The plan entails a combination of gravity and pressure sewers. Some speakers objected to the type of sewer planned for their roads; Demler advised them to contact the town engineers and said those details were subject to change.

Every property in the town would be assessed an increased sewer tax to pay for the work. Demler released figures showing the average home's sewer tax would rise $32.33 by the year 2000. However, he said that would be offset by a water fee decrease planned for that year, while this year's general fund tax cut is continued. That would bring the total tax impact of the project to $17.83 per home per year, he said.

"This is a worst-case scenario," the supervisor said. "It could be less."

The cost estimates come from Wendel Engineers, which Demler said has tended to be high in its estimates on previous projects in the town. "We've always come in under budget," he said.

The Republican supervisor, who is seeking re-election, told the audience to beware of "spin doctors" who will tell them the town will be socked with a big "balloon payment" early in the next century. "It's not going to happen," he promised.

Several speakers said previous town officials told them, in some cases decades ago, that sewers would be coming to certain locations shortly. Demler said in previous election years, residents were made promises about sewers that were not kept.

"If this had been done 20 years ago, it would have been a lot cheaper, and you would have gotten what you've been paying for all these years," he told the audience. He was referring to a non-user fee the sewer district charges unconnected properties. That averages $51 a year, he said.

Demler said he planned to offset the cost of the work further by asking the Town Board to pass what he called a "value-added fee" on subdivisions. He proposed to charge new developers $2,000 a home to take some of the burden off existing residents, who he said are increasing the value of vacant land by paying for town-wide sewers.

Sewer Superintendent William Carr said that residents who have recently installed septic tanks would not be required to hook into sewers right away. They could wait as long as five years. He also said that, since residents will be responsible for the cost of a tap-in, those more than 500 feet from a sewer line will be exempt. Officials said the average cost of a tap-in would be $12 a foot.

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