by Lisa Tome
After six months as the town's leader, Mayor Travis Marion wants to know what those on previous town boards were doing.
The mayor was openly critical of past mayors and commissioners on Tuesday night, January 13, after town administrator Calvin Bonenberger said there is much to be done.
"I am truly disappointed that past boards did not think. The little things were disregarded. We will get negative press ... (because) past boards did not plan for the future," said Marion. "Now we are stuck with it and have to make the tough decisions."
Bonenberger said that while the town has spent $200,000 in legal fees during the last four years. Capital improvement projects have been left unattended.
He estimated that the town will have "significant" expenditures in the next two to five years, totaling $15-$18 million. He said the Town needs to make a plan to deal with these expenditures.
Those expenditures are as follows:
• The cost of a new wastewater treatment plant does not include the $2-$3 million it will cost to decommission the current lagoon. An additional $1.5-$2 million will be needed to handle the sludge from the sewer plant.
• $2 million is needed to replace 10,000 lineal feet of four-inch water lines. They will be replaced with five-inch lines and are expected to combat the problem of "brown water" in certain areas.
• A new rate study analyzing the water and sewer rates will cost $25,000. An additional $8,000 will be needed for an impact fee study. As many as 700 new homes will be built in town. That's why the fee study is needed.
• The 12-year-old town hall building needs a new roof and other repairs in the next three years. That cost will be about $100,000 to fix the HVAC system, leaks, cracks in the brick work, and more.
• $100,000 will be used to buy new police vehicles during the next three years. The life expectancy of a police car is 3-5 years.
• The public works department will need $250,000 in new equipment. The dump truck is a dozen years old. The backhoe is 20 years old.
• The connection to Chester Water Authority and the new water system will cost $5-$7 million.
• A second water storage tower will be needed. That will cost about $2 million. The existing water tower is overdue for its 10-year inspection. That will cost $200,000. The inside of the current tank needs new coating.
• A half million will be needed for upgrades to the inflow and infiltration upgrades of the sewer system.
• An estimated $2 million will be needed to replace and upgrade all the streets and sidewalks over the next five years. "These numbers are daunting but they are not unmanageable," said Bonenberger. He also said that the town can make money by selling Chester Water to others. He also stressed that the town needs five, 10, and 20 year capital improvement plans. He also said the town has had four years of "chaos and distractions." "Because of the circus at times, the can got kicked down the road," said Bonenberger.