The Suffolk County Department of Public Works helds it third, and final, public meeting on the Southwest Sewer District Service Area Expansion Project, reviewing its findings from its final review.
Representatives from the SCDPW said the most feasible and cost effective idea was to work on funding a project to areas in most need, many of which have a low watertable where backed up sewage from cesspools could contaiminate the single groundwater aquifer for Long Island.
A single area of North Babylon, coded 108-2 by the SCDPW, would be considered the single top subarea to receive sewers in the near future. A presentation stated a random home picked in the area with a home value of $392,500 and 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms in a split-level would expect to pay an additional $1,319 a year to an estimated $600 maintenance fees on current cesspools if the plan went through under a "best-case scenario."
The "best case" plan would be, according to representatives, a 30-year bond at 2 percent interest and 80 percent of the project's funding from federal, state or local sources. A previous meeting stated the cost for the project could range from $900 million to over $2 billion.
Local representatives and residents both noted the increase in taxes would not be doable for those living in the area.
"The jawdrop was understandable," said Legislator Wayne Horsley (D–Babylon), noting the reaction to the cost estimates at the last meeting. "Times are tough. We have been, as a county, we have been looking for alternative ways to fund this. We're working with Executive Bellone and fellow legislators. The idea right now is only half cooked – we're looking to see what synergies there can be between Suffolk County and Suffolk Water Authority."
"If we don’t get the funding, we just don’t go forward," said Legislator Lou D'Amaro (D–North Babylon). "Suffolk County wont pay for it. Without 80% funding, I dont see how this goes foward."
Residents were concerned the meetings would go ahead with making the sewer a reality, however, a referendum would have to be held for the areas selected. The residents in theses area will have a final say by voting on whether their area receives the sewer system expansion.
"You wont get a sewer system without a say," promised D'Amaro. "Not while I’m sitting here."
"My hope is by next year we should have some positive results coming from meetings in finding a way to make this doable," said Horsley. "$2 billion is not doable and we all know it. If we can find a better funding source to manage this, we may have a good shot."
He added: "This can be done – there is an answer."