Public utility district board talk sewer, wells |

Public utility district board talk sewer, wells

Jack Barnwell

Two South Tahoe Public Utility District board members broached the topic of reducing sewer connection fees and purchasing groundwater wells at a Thursday meeting.

Directors Duane Wallace and Chris Cefalu reported recommendations from a committee that they saw might play a contributing factor in dissuading development within their area.

"Our sewer connection fees are too high," Wallace said during his committee report.

He recommended a 25 percent reduction in hookup fees for all future developments. He said as it stands now, hookup costs may be a contributing factor, as much as 10 percent, that deterred the costs and it wasn't the district's role to foster development and growth, it could make it easier. He also proposed a five-year time frame for those developers unable to pay all upfront costs.

Paul Hughes, the district's chief financial officer, said a decision could have a $200,000 impact to the district's budget. Wallace noted that any lost revenue could be made up by future development and thereby future customers. He recommended a May vote so it could go into effect in June.

Director Jim Johnson questioned the logic behind a reduction and said he'd likely oppose any reduction brought to the full board for a future vote. Ratepayers, he said, would ultimately be subsidizing new development and cost the district revenue.

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Board President Randy Vogelgesang added that, while in favor of such a recommendation, such reduction for future projects should be considered within reason.

It's one thing to grant a new retail business being built such a break, and another for what he called a "McMansion," or massive mansions.

The board and district staff will review the impact after a year and weigh if the decision had the desired results.

Also recommended was the possibity of purchasing of groundwater wells. Cefalu said the district already has four formal requests from groundwater well owners who no longer want to operate them and hook up to the district's water system.