Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

March 17, 2010

Q's and A's from Tansi sewer hearing

The following questions and answers were heard during last month's Tansi Sewer Utility District public hearing.

Q. Will there be two districts?

A. Yes. In the beginning there will be two districts. Tansi Waste Management Inc. (TWM) was created as a private entity to fill the gap, providing critically needed sewer service to POA amenities until a public utility district was formed or an existing utility district could take over providing sewer services. TWM will become Tansi Sewer Utility District.

Q. Will Tansi POA get its investment back from TSUD once it takes over TWM?

A. Yes and no. A cash transfer back is improbable but the POA will see its investment benefiting members because assets from TWM will become TSUD's and that will be a start-up cost the POA members will not have to contribute to with the new public district.

Q. What type of sewer system will be installed?

A. The system will be a low pressure system with each individual customer having a grinder pump. Septic systems must be abandoned at the time of hookup and the pump, installation and closing out of the old system will be covered under one fee.

Q. Who will maintain the grinder pump?

A. A private company will install the pumps as part of the hookup fee. The same company will do maintenance at a cost to the homeowner.

Q. What is the cost to the average homeowner?

A. All home owners will pay a $6,500 hookup fee of which $1,500 will be designated for installation of a grinder pump and closeout of the existing septic system. This is a best-guess estimate and the price could be lower, depending on how many grants and low-interest loans are obtained by TSUD.

Q. Will the hookup fees be financed?

A. There are several ways being explored as to how the $6,500 will be financed. One possibility is an abutment fee placed against each property owner. Another is low-interest bank loans. Grants could lower the fee. There might also be an extended annual payment schedule to make the costs affordable to homeowners.

Q. What will the monthly bill be?

A. $35 per month in the beginning.

Q. Is this project premature since the system for POA amenities is not even proven it will work?

A. Proponents for TSUD say that there is a liability protection with the transfer of the private system to the public system and that creating a sewer district to service the Lake Tansi area proper is no longer an option.

Q. When will TSUD expand to the next area (Phase II)?

A. A lot depends on funding and how quick the plant goes on line.

Q. What will the charge be for Hiawatha E and Hiawatha W?

A. Hiawatha E and W are doing their own infracstructure, and will pay connect fees of $190,000.

Q. What is the cost of Phase I?

A. $5 million.

Q. Will owners of property where lines pass be required to pay the hookup fee when a house does not exist on that property?

A. At this time there is no plan to require a property owner with no home in existence on the lot to pay the hookup fee. State law allows for the $35 per month fee to be charged but there is no plan to do so at this time.

Q. Will all home owners have to hookup?

A. There was some lengthy discussion about this and the best guess answer for this reporter is that state law allows mandatory participation of a line passes in front of the property, regardless of whether the current septic system is in good working order or not.

It appears that TSUD promoters were leaning toward a mandatory $35 monthly fee if the line passes your property, but if your septic system is in good working order, the $6,500 (or whatever number is decided) hookup fee will not be assessed until actual hookup.

On a side note, once the line is installed in front of your property, and your septic system fails, you will not be re-permitted to repair and use the septic system.

Q. How many board members will there be, how are they put into office and what will they be paid?

A. There will be three board members and state law allows for a stipend of up to $300 per month. Board members must attend meetings to receive the per diem and will decide on their own pay. The board is appointed by the mayor. State law does allow for elected boards if a private act is passed by the Tennessee General Assembly.

Q. What is the time line on the three phases?

A. Phase I should be on line within weeks; Phase II within a couple of months; and Phase III within two to three years.

Q. Any facility planning for future growth?

A. Yes, preliminary planning has already begun for expansion of the plant and service area but it is not near finalization.

Q. Will there be an odor from the plant?

A. Yes, there is a possibility. There could be a slight odor during the start-up of the plant, and during low-flow winter months, but that is not anticipated to be a problem.