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The six Erie County sewer districts and the Southtowns Sewage Treatment Agency have approved proposed 2001 budgets to be submitted to the Erie County Legislature.

"The changes in the projected average cost per home range from a decrease of $61 a home in the Holland Extension of County Sewer District No. 3 to an increase of $21 in the original District No. 3 area," County Executive Joel A. Giambra said in a news release.

Most of the decreases in proposed taxes were achieved by reducing existing debt service costs and controlling expenditures, Giambra said. The county executive said there was no choice but to raise the rates in several of the districts, because reserve funds were low in those districts.

The largest treatment expenses of the sewer districts remain labor, power and debt service.

Giambra noted that state and federal mandates make sewage costs difficult to hold down because there are few discretionary items that can be reduced or eliminated.

The county has been working to eliminate facilities and consolidate services with other communities and has eliminated one pumping station, with three others to be eliminated by the end of the year. The county is considering eliminating 28 more pumping stations, Giambra said.

"There are cost savings of $20,000 a year in annual operating costs and $500,000 in capital costs for the smallest station eliminated," Giambra said.

In some cases, the county has eliminated pump stations when it could contract with a nearby municipality, said Charles J. Alessi, deputy commissioner of environment and planning's Division of Sewage Management. The county also may construct a new line to eliminate a pump station or require developers to build sewer lines to eliminate pump stations for new construction, he said.

Sewer rates are calculated differently in the different districts and may include a flat charge, a property footage charge, assessed value, water use charge or a combination, said Alessi.

Proposed sewage rates for the average home in each area are:

District No. 1, serving southern Cheektowaga and northern West Seneca, $243, down $3 or 1.2 percent.

District No. 2, serving southern Hamburg, Evans, Eden, Brant, Angola, Farnham and North Collins, $425, down $1 or 0.2 percent.

Original District No. 3, serving the town and village of Orchard Park, Eastern Hamburg and southern West Seneca, $277, up $21 or 7.6 percent.

District No. 3, Armor/McKinley Extension, serving Hamburg, $335, down $3 or 0.9 percent.

District No. 3 Boston Valley Extension, serving Boston, $314, down $36 or 10.3 percent.

District No. 3 Holland Extension, serving Holland, $305, down $61 or 16.7 percent.

District No. 4 serving village and town of Lancaster and Depew, $287, down $3 or 1 percent.

District No. 5, serving Clarence, $217, up $5 or 2.3 percent.

District No. 6, serving Lackawanna, $355, down $2 or 0.6 percent.

Southtowns Agency, $162, unchanged.

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