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CFPUA project could cost residents thousands

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- New Hanover County and Cape Fear Public Utility Authority are installing new sewer and water lines in the Heritage Park Area.

Connection to the lines is mandatory and residents must hire their own plumber. Folks living in the area are speaking out and they're not happy.

"We can't afford that," Resident Laura Harris said. "We have families, we have children. A lot of people are retired and they're on fixed income."

$10,000-$12,000 per household is the price tag Cape Fear Public Utility Authority is putting on the installation of new water and sewer lines in the heritage park area.

Resident Pearlene Slade says she understands the need for the sewer lines, but until her personal property needs it, she doesn't want to connect to those lines. "I've lived here for 55 years, I have no problem with my water. I have no problem with my sewer," Slade said.

It doesn't matter if some resident's systems are working fine. The project is subject to mandatory connection, meaning everyone within a specified distance will be forced to connect or get fined.

"Why are we being forced to connect?" Harris asks. "Let them run their lines at no cost to us and let it be optional whether we want to connect or not."

The county and the CFPUA are using mandatory connection to ensure funding for the construction. CFPUA spokesman Mike McGill says it actually keeps cost down.

"It's called mandatory connection for a reason," McGill said. "So the cost of construction for these lines is spread out over the entire customer base."

But the customer base is starting to question some of the charges.

"$110 of that cost is basically new customer fees," Harris said. "We're not being new customers. We've been here forever."

Residents expressed their concerns at a public meeting and McGill says the CFPUA is taking that into consideration.

"We're gonna develop a plan where we can look at certain options of what we could possibly do to lessen the impact," McGill said.

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CFPUA (IN CHARGE!!!!)

And just who died and left CFPUA IN CHARGE OF NEW HANOVER COUNTY????? If people can't afford to connect they should not be able to make them. The residence know what they can and can't afford. This is not fear to anyone. I think this was gone about the wrong way. If we voted on a bond in 1984 then what happened to the tax money that has been paid all these years. CFPUA should have gotten that money since our property tax went up just for this project. I don't understand how and where we are to get that kind of money for the project out of pocket. The middle class don't stand a chance nor does the poor. How's about the Upper Class subdivisions do they pay the same prices that are put on Heritage Park?? I would say NOT. Maybe that is something that we need to look into!!!!

CFPUA has been collecting

CFPUA has been collecting water and sewer fees from these people for years. CFPUA should know these lines are not going to last forever and should have budgeted with the funds collected over the years for replacement. Obviously the only thing CFPUA is interested in are pay raises for themselves. Shame on them and New Hanover County.

Completely incorrect

CFPUA has not collected any fees or charges from the residents at any time. It's that simple. Please check your information before making such charges. This kind of misinformation doesn't do anyone any good.

We have been brought in to fix a long-standing problem that predates the Authority for decades. 67 septic systems have failed since 2000, creating an environmental and public health hazard. The county approved the project and, as the water and sewer authority, we are the people to handle the project.

There are costs involved that everyone has to pay, and has had to pay since before CFPUA was created. If mandatory connection has not used by cities, counties and authorities across the country, you would not have sewer and water lines at all. They would be too expensive to operate and use.

We are looking into what limited steps we can take; the mandatory connection process falls in line with our governing statutes. We cannot provide remedies to one area at the expense of another. However, we believe we may have options that help the community while being fair to all of our other 67,000 customers. We will work with the county to see what we can do.

The quandry...

For those folks complaining CFPUA should bear the cost of bringing the lines to them, the counter to that argument is that we existing customers shouldn't have to pay to bring those lines to you. You see, it really is us who is paying for it, not CFPUA as you indicate.

Water quality in those surrounding creeks and tributaries are impaired according the state. Your septic systems are failing, and largely, you are not spending the money to keeping your septic systems in good shape...Someone spouting off in this forum that everything at their house is working fine is not necessarily the case, and there is ample evidence to the contrary.

The way I read this article, it appears everyone is trying to do the best they can to spread the costs around and minimize the impact.

I'm not sure who you think

I'm not sure who you think you are but you have no right speaking on this matter. There is no one pointing their finger in the direction of surrounding neighbors of this community to supply the funds! We are simply saying it's not fair to have it forced on us! I personally just had my septic profesionally maintenanced simply because it was due and guess what, it's in perfect working condition. So here's an idea, how about make everyone pass an inspection and if they don't they have to put in a new septic. Ta Da!!! Problem solved! I work hard for my money, in fact I'm a nurse if that gives you any insight as to how hard I work. We only want them to make this affordable to us! If I can't afford that outragous amount I know 95% of the community which are retired people living off of a social security check cannot afford this. So Jason how would you feel if that were your grandparents reaching into their life savings and literally flushing it down the drain!!!!

You need to get your facts

You need to get your facts srtight Jason read the fine print. you weren't at that meeting

CFPUA needs a pay raise.

CFPUA needs a pay raise. That is why they are forcing you to hook up. Frank Stires needs more money.

The reason for the project

It's a bit surprising this didn't make it into the story but the reason CFPUA is in the neighborhood is because the neighborhood has the second-highest rate for septic failures in the county and it's been that way for decades. We have partnered with the county on this project. If the county had not approved the project to deal with the environmental impact caused by the failing septic systems, CFPUA would not be in the community fixing the problem.

There are costs involved that must be charged out of fundamental fairness to all of our customers. We understand the issues involved when it comes to the costs and we are working with the county to develop a plan to try and address their concerns. However, mandatory connection is necessary. If cities, counties and authorities did not work under mandatory connection, we simply could not build and operate our systems.

I have answered dozens of questions from the residents over the last few weeks and will gladly address them with anyone interested in the project. You can email me at mike.mcgill@cfpua.org.

How about sewer only

How about sewer only. If there really is a problem with the septic tanks in this area, then just hookup sewer. Let the homeowners keep their well water. Not everyone makes your salary and people cannot afford another high bill to pay. Why do you think you have so many delinquent accounts. Be fair to others. Offering a payment plan won't keep food on the table. Again, not everyone makes your salary. There are many who make no salary at all.

iam not saying i wouldnt

iam not saying i wouldnt care if we had sewer and water.. But plan flat and simple I cant afford it!!!!!!! I don't have a spare 6,000 dollars laying around i don't have a spare $500 dollars laying around. I don't think they understand this. Lots of people in the neighborhood are elderly and retired on fixed incomes. Its just plain retarded

won't work

They wouldn't have a way to measure the flow to bill. Currently the sewer bill is figured according to the incoming water usage. So if you wash your car weekly, water your lawn or fill a pool with water that comes from cFpUa, you are also charged for sewer even though it doesn't go in the sewer.

Cost

The article states fees ranging from $10,000 to $12,000 per household. Is that correct? Then it states $110.00 of that are new customer fees. I don't know of too many working families that can take that much of a hit to their budget. A plan to address this should have been formulated before the project was started.

Fees

The fees total around $6,500. We estimate the cost for a private plumber to connect a home to our lines - a private cost because the work is on private property - to be between $2,000 and $4,000. So the range is accurate.

What also is not stated in this story is the fact that mandatory connection does not start until after construction is completed, which is 14-18 months away. Also, the mandatory connection process lasts six months. Residents have two years to secure financing (which CFPUA offers as a program for 8 years at 5% interest) to assist with payment. There is also a deferral process they can apply for that will last at least three years. However, there are some fees that still apply because the service will always be available. These options were told to the resident in February of 2013 and last week.

Mr. McGill

I pity you guys, you have to try and explain to people that will not listen to the facts. And get ridiculed by persons that are so ignorant to the facts that they assume this is overreach, maybe that is a side effect from fifty years of bacterial contamination?
The Facts as I see them are as follows:
The most contaminated ground water in the county due to improper upkeep and the sheer number of private septic systems (basically an underground outhouse)
The spread of harmful bacteria into public waterways caused by private sewer systems (maybe these folks that have been getting free water and sewer for the entire time the house has been there should be charged to clean up the mess they created)
Water connections, well if they want to drink their own waste that is one thing but I do not think the neighbors wants to drink their waste. And once again, the property owners are the ones that caused the problem in the first place.
No one wants to buy a house that is on a septic system those things are great if you live in a farm house on ten acres of land where water and sewer connections are not available. But the fact is that the watershed in that part of the county cannot disburse the pollutants that's why they are in the waterways.
The owners have created a public health hazard, the government has stepped in using taxpayer funds to do away with the problem.
I do not see why anyone would object to paying part of fixing something they created. Do they not realize that the problem goes further than the property line? Have they no concern for public health ? It is my opinion that they should have to pay more for it since they are receiving the direct benefit of my money But I do not have a say in the matter.
You Guys hang in there and thanks for fighting the good fight I know it is an uphill battle sometimes.

wait...

You are going to charge them interest on something that you are forcing them to do? Are you a bank now too? Greed is what I see. If you really cared, you would just simply give them a payment plan option without 5% interest.

Da comrade!

We will obey and submit to the almighty power of the State and its various agencies, entities and associations! Because the water we have now is not as good as your doubleplusgood water! Yours costs more so it must be better. And the choice you are giving the people, they can choose to pay thousands for service they dont need or choose to be fined by the county! Because a couple hundred feet of PVC pipe is worth 6500.00 all day long!

AMERICA HOME OF THE FREE!

Boris, you're way off

CFPUA is installing more than 24,000 linear feet of gravity and force mains for sewer alone in the community, along with a new pump station. Bit more than a couple hundred feet of PVC. If you're going to take cheap shots, you should come a bit closer with your "facts".

NO!

YOU'RE THE ONE WHO IS "WAY OFF" WITH YOUR DRACONIAN MEASURES! YOU ARE THE ONE MAKING UP BOGUS "ENVIROMENTAL DISASTER" STORIES TO FORCE YOUR UNWANTED FEES ON EVERYONE! ITS ALL ABOUT MONEY MONEY MONEY!

Mr McGill

you folks could do a better job in presenting your case.

Coach Bobby Knight was once criticized for suggesting if rape is inevitable, one might as well enjoy it.

This is somewhat similar to rape as the property owners have no choice.

But you could do a better marketing job.

You talk about the low interest rate which can apply if the property owner avails himself on the CPFUA portion of the coast.

Why not be specific? This will cost X dollars per month for so many months. Takes some of the pain away from that large number.

When you go to Bob King, or see ads on the tube, they note the cost per month on a new Benz. You have to look really hard to find the actual cost. The same holds true for other manufacturers. They're not going to scare the customer with what may be a large number. They break it down into affordable monthly payments?

Are car salesmen smarter than you guys; or have they embraced a marketing approach which works?

Now why not identify 1 or 2 insured plumbing contractors which might be willing to offer a discount on their portion of the costs in exchange for a commitment to be the designated contractor? With the recent economy, many construction trades were willing to discount in exchange for business.

When I worked for a national insurance company, we sure paid far less for Ford Tauruses on a fleet basis than the normal consumer.

Again, it seems like your marketing approach is to throw out numbers and expect people to accept them blindly. Ther may be a more palatable approach.

SC

I think that they COULD force sanitary sewer but I don't see the need for both even though the sewer bill is based upon water intake. I would think they could separate the two as a cost savings. Want to keep your well water? Fine but you WILL sign up for sewer. Septic over flows affect a LOT of people, A well running dry hurts one home at a time.
The way they do it now seems somewhat arbitrary.....

Vog

"Again, it seems like your

"Again, it seems like your marketing approach is to throw out numbers and expect people to accept them blindly. Ther may be a more palatable approach."

that is because McGill is a government worker and he thinks that the majority of us property owners and taxpayers are just to ignorant to catch onto his fancy fast talking ways, and after watching the election results for the last 6 or 8 years on both the local and federal levels, i believe he may be onto something.

Talk about getting your

Talk about getting your facts straight you told us at the meeting it was 15000 ft now its 24000 what is it next week 50000