WESTERLY — Voters approved by a 429-82 vote Monday a $1.66 million bond to pay for repairs to the municipal sewer system.
Just 2.8 percent of the town’s 17,907 voters participated.
Those who voted at Westerly Middle School [precincts 3,601, 3603, and 3,604] approved the initiative by a 155-36 vote while those who voted at Springbrook School [precincts 3,602, 3,606, and 3,607] voted 71-13 in favor of the bond. Mail voters approved the bond by a 203-33 vote.
The work will consist of sealing and replacing covers on 63 manholes and the rehabilitation of 18,100 feet of pipe. Defects in the covers and pipes allow groundwater and rainwater to enter the sewer system, which can reduce the system's hydraulic capacity, causing flooding or backups at pumping stations and at the treatment facility on Margin Street. The work is expected to stop 160,000 gallons per day of ground- and rain-water that is estimated to flow into the treatment facility.
The need for the work was identified during an evaluation of the system required by the state Department of Environmental Management when the town applied for a discharge permit that became effective on Sept. 1, 2013.
The bond proceeds will be used to pay off an anticipated low-interest loan from the state Infrastructure Bank, which requires a referendum to establish eligibility. The debt service is expected to be 50 percent funded by the municipal general fund and 50 percent by an increase in the ad valorem tax, which is charged tosewer system users to help pay for capital improvement projects.
The general fund portion of the bond is estimated to increase the annual tax rate by 2 cents per $1,000. The annual cost per house, based on the median home value of $270,400, would be about $5.40. The ad valorem rate is expected to increase by 6 cents per $1,000.