Berryville homeowners concerned about water and sewer hookup rates may think twice before complaining when compared to charges being paid by the Clarke County School Board for the new high school.
“The charge is not unexpected, and was foreseen in the project budget, as it is the standard fee as per Town ordinance,” said School Board member and authorized owner’s representative (AOR) for the new high school.
On Monday night, the Clarke County School Board authorized payment to the Town of Berryville of $42K for a two-inch water meter hookup and $182K for sewer availability. The $224K payment is computed based upon the size of the water meter.
The larger the water the meter, the higher the fee.
Water, particularly fire flow and easement considerations, have been a thorny issue between the Town of Berryville and the School Board throughout the construction project. Bouffault said that the Town has profited from the school construction project in a number of ways.
“We are paying 50% of the upgrade to their waterworks, including but not limited to the bigger pumps for fire flow,” Bouffault said. According to Bouffault, the $250K fire flow charge has allowed the Town to upgrade its entire system including a new generator and electronic water distribution control system.
“We have paid to have the water line moved, with an entirely new line connecting the reservoir to the Town’s system. The old one has been de-commissioned. Our cost is difficult to determine as it is integrated into the global project, however given their site work and plumbing costs, I would estimate between $100K and $150K.”
Bouffault said that the School Board also provided a sewer easement from the Town’s waterworks so that it can connect to the new sewer line installed for the high school. The new eight-inch sewer line will be accessed via a manhole located near the front entrance of the school.
“No cost to us, just the easement,” Bouffault said.
Despite all of the benefit to the town from the school project, Bouffault said that the school was still required to pay the standard rate for its utility hookup.
“We would of course have appreciated some consideration for our helping to pay for the town’s waterworks upgrade, which not only guarantees our fire flow, but that of the entire community in that area – including Food Lion.” Bouffault said.
So the School Board’s recent decision to find alternate water sources for the school playing field irrigation system probably came as little surprise to Town officials. Bouffault said that the decision to look for less costly water sources simply made good economic sense.
“The Town was concerned about our having a water well – although what would be needed to convert it from a non-potable source to a well capable of handling such a large school is considerable and is not currently contemplated,” Bouffault said. “What they might not like, is the fact that they will not be receiving water fees for all that water used for physical education field irrigation and greenhouse purposes. We have determined that the cost of the well, including the energy needed for it, will pay for itself very rapidly when looking at the Town’s water fees.”
Bouffault said the construction of the town’s new waste water treatment plant (WWTP), which coincided with the selection of the new high school site within town limits probably played a role in the town’s decision to establish increased utility hook-up fees.
“Unfortunately, the high hook-up fees, when established by the Town in 2008, I believe were done with the view that the cost of the WWTP was increasing and the Town was trying to figure out a way to pay for it,” Bouffault said.
Berryville town manager Keith Dalton, away on vacation for the week, was unavailable for comment.