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NEW WATER DISTRICT PROPOSAL UP FOR VOTE

Despite a decent amount of rain the last few summers, several Aurora homeowners find themselves collecting rain water to do laundry, limiting shower time and flushing the toilet sparingly.

Others in the south-central part of town buy water for cooking and drinking -- sometimes paying to have it trucked to their homes.

It's an issue, they say, of limited water quantity, as well as poor quality, coming from their wells.

That's the reason behind a special vote Tuesday, in which about 1,400 property owners are eligible to vote on a $12.9 million proposal to create Aurora Water District 18. If approved, it would mean public water along 23 miles of roads for about 900 properties, 700 of them with homes. Residents would finance the two-phase project, along with $1.2 million in federal grants, over 38 years.

Voting will be held from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday in Town Hall, 5 S. Grove St. If the measure passes, work would begin this fall, with the entire project completed in spring 2006, Town Engineer Bryan Smith said.

"From what we're hearing, there's as many, if not more problems, than there were two years ago," said Smith. "There's only a fixed amount of underground water resources available."

Proponents of the district continued to keep the issue in front of the Town Board last week.

"I don't know why anyone in their right mind wouldn't want quality water," said Tom Callahan, a Grover Road resident. "We need water not for convenience, but we want it for basic, human dignity."

Callahan said he's been unable to have his family's relatives come for Christmas for the last 17 years because the family is so large and "you can't flush the toilet 30 times." A father of five, he said if all his five children still lived home, his home wouldn't have enough water.

The battle over public water centers on those who say they're living a life akin to pioneer days, while others say it's not their responsibility to help pay for the water when their well supply is fine.

"I'm not opposed to getting water, but I don't want to pay for someone else's," said Marilyn Folaron, an 18-year resident of Bailey Road. "Nobody pays for my electric or gas. Thirty-eight years is a long time. I'll be 80-something-years-old, and paying for someone else's water."

Folaron likened the proposal to a "blank check" -- since the water district costs are projected.

Upon completion of the entire project, homeowners would pay about $7.73 per $1,000 of assessed valuation -- amounting to $773 per year for a home assessed at $100,000. That would be to pay back bond debt over 38 years, on top of the cost of buying water, which Smith said would typically run families between $150 and $200 annually.

The Town Board and residents initially approved the water district in August 2002, but its costs increased and scope expanded -- triggering a new public hearing and petition leading to a referendum.

e-mail: krobinson@buffnews.com

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