Town sets one rate for sewer fees

By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
April 7, 2008

NORTH BRANFORD — The town is raising the fee it charges homeowners and businesses to connect to a sewer line to $12,300.

The figure is higher than the sewer connection fees in most nearby towns, but Town Engineer Kurt Weiss told the Town Council the move will make the situation more “fair and equitable” for residents.

Previously, residents and business owners paid a range of fees depending on their location in town. For example, a property owner in the North Branford center area could pay only about $1,000 to hook up to the sewer line, while a resident in the White Hollow area faced a fee of more than $12,000.

Weiss told the council the discrepancy was due to how the engineering department calculates the cost to the town to extend a sewer line. At the time the sewer is put in, the town divides its cost by the number of residents and businesses that will hook up to it, he said. In the future, additions to that line are charged the same amount, which may have been set years earlier.

Weiss said the department decided to bring all the fees up to $12,300.

“It’s a higher number than we looked at in surrounding towns,” Weiss said, adding that most area towns charge about $6,000 to $8,000.

Weiss said that, while the charge is still less than the cost of installing a septic system, it could have an impact on business owners. The town assesses the fee on a per unit basis for businesses, with one unit for every 10,000 square feet.

“Whether that’s a make or break for a business moving in, that’s an issue you might want to consider,” Weiss told council members.

He added that the town’s Water Pollution Control Authority can grant up to a two-thirds reduction in the fee if officials think the extension will benefit the town as a whole.

In addition to the new fee, the town is also changing its collection method.

Previously, people wanting to connect to the sewer paid the fee when the town issued a certificate of occupancy, but now the fee will be required with a building permit or sanitary sewer connection permit.

Several town councilors expressed their support for the proposal, and the council unanimously approved the new fee at its meeting last week.

“Basically that just levels the playing field for everyone in town instead of somebody paying a lot less,” councilor Vincent Caprio said.

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