There has been an increased amount of misinformation/confusion regarding the Sewer Assessments sent on for property owners on Contract 8 (Section known as Arnold Rd North) and Hazard Street. I would like to address some of the issues below:
- The biggest point of confusion is the Waterman/Fiske Sewer Assessment Program. This is an assistance program to help property owners on the current contracts to offset some of the cost of the Sewer Assessments through two options. The first option is based on the Real Property Assessment of your home. If the total assessment you are being billed is more than 15% of the current assessment value of your home, you are entitled to a reduction. You should set up an appointment with town to discuss the amount you are entitled to, to reduce the total assessment liability. The second option addresses those who have a financial need. If you are a struggling homeowner with low income, please contact our Department of Human Services so they can discuss what help you qualify for. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are located on the letters that were inserted with each bill.
- Homeowners who have put in a new septic system will be granted a deferral of the current assessment bill and it will be interest free for the deferral period. This deferral will be calculated at 10 yrs. from the “Date of Conformance”, proof to be provided by the taxpayer. What this means is, if you installed a new septic in 2016, for example, you must file an appeal and include a copy of the “Date of Conformance”. Administratively, we can then defer your assessment payments, in this example, until 2026. This only applies to the owner on record at the time the original assessment is billed. A zero annual bill will be sent out reminding the homeowner of the deferral and the beginning year for installment billing. This deferral ceases if the property is transferred to new owner prior to the expiration of the 10 yrs.
- Homeowners will be forced to tie in and disable their septic system. This is FALSE. Although it is technically in the ordinance that we have the right to force property owners to tie-in, it has not been enforced in the past and unless the new council demands it, it will not be enforced in the near future.
- Regarding the Assessment bills that have just been mailed, the normal 1st quarter is due October 15, because of the late mailing we gave until November 15, 2020 to pay the first quarter, with a grace period until November 30, 2020. The second quarter is due January 15, 2021, the third is April 15, 2021, and the forth is July 15, 2021.
- It is better to take out a home equity loan and pay the entire assessment off. This really depends on if you plan on residing at that location for the next 20 yrs. or more. The Sewer Assessment follows the property, not the taxpayer that received the initial bill.
The original use of the Sewer Assessments billed by Coventry were for our share of the construction of the sewer plan (bricks & mortar) in addition to the capital costs of bringing the plant to secondary and tertiary treatment. In 2005, the Town of Coventry began sewer line construction with the installation of the Fast Track line. This changed the scope of what sewer assessments are used to pay for. With the newest ordinance 05-15-303, sewer assessments are billed per project based on the actual costs of construction. Costs of construction will vary depending on if a Gravity line is installed or a Low Pressure line is put in. In the case of a Low Pressure line, grinder pumps for individual properties have to be taken into account. If ledge is an anticipated obstacle, this would add to the cost of construction. There are also engineering costs, certification fees, and Police details. Coventry does not include any costs associated with paving the roadway.
We are still responsible for any upgrades to the actual Sewer Plant in West Warwick. Currently, there are bonds out for Advanced Wastewater Treatment Construction, Collection upgrades, and Phosphorus upgrades. These costs are allocated based on our percentage of ownership in the total capacity at the West Warwick sewer plant. Coventry currently owns 23% of the total capacity.
The newest ordinance changed the way we bill assessments. Since payments we make to West Warwick are based on capacity and each project uses a portion of that capacity, billing is based on the potential capacity each individual property can use based on DEM guidelines. For example, each bedroom has the potential for an occupant to use 115 GPD. When a property owner has to put in a new septic system, that septic system is constructed based on the potential flow into the septic tank. A septic tank for a 3 bedroom home is larger than one for a 2 bedroom home. By calculating assessments based on GPD, it ensures that each property owner is billed fairly based on impact on capacity. For example, comparing units to GPD and using Arnold Rd, approximate cost per unit would be $19,042.99. A 2 bedroom 1-unit house would be billed $19,042.99. A 2-unit house where each unit has only 1 bedroom would incur a bill of $38,085.98. Under the current ordinance, a 2 bedroom home is billed $14,137.78.