Township approves Fenton Rd. watermain agreement

FLINT TWP. — Flint Township is now on board for the Fenton Road Watermain Extension project after its Board of Trustees unanimously approved the agreement at its Jan. 10 meeting.

Supervisor Karyn Miller began the discussion before the vote, saying that in 2009 the City of Burton and Flint Township paid for the engineering expenses at that time, believing stimulus money would come from federal government to pay for the extension project. When the funds fell through, the Fenton Road Watermain project was put on hold until a recent funding source became available.

Both Flint Township and the City of Burton received funds from a second round of stimulus money. With this funding, the state government would pay 15 percent of the cost, then the remaining cost would be split between the two municipalities over a 20-year bond period with an interest rate of 2.5 percent.

Jeff Wright, Genesee County Drain Commissioner, spoke at the meeting on the subject, saying the government has stimulus money that would help the two municipalities extend the water line down Fenton Rd. between Maple Ave. and Bristol Rd. According to Wright, a mobile home park on the Burton side of Fenton Rd. has arsenic in the soil, which has led to problems with the groundwater. On the Flint Township side, there are approximately 1,200 homes in Pickwick Village and other neighborhoods with the potential for an arsenic problem.

Trustee George Menoutes told the board that he knew of three families that have moved out of Pickwick Village due to arsenic and water problems, but he “didn’t realize it was that serious.”

Another reason for the watermain extension is due to Baker College being on a dead-end water line, and the college would run into problems if there was future expansion on its campus.

“With the project, Baker would get two lines,” Wright said. “There is a public health reason to build the system.”

Wright also said that the Drain Commission does not have any direct customers on the line, and would serve as a third party to coordinate the project.

“Never, in my opinion, will you get this done cheaper,” he told the board.

The total cost is $1.5-million, less 15 percent paid by the state. Wright said Burton already passed the agreement, and now it was up to Flint Township to decide if it wanted to pass the agreement to pay half. According to estimated figures, the township would ultimately pay $847,458.33 with principal, May interest and November interest added in over the 20-year period.

The sealed bids are to be opened Thursday, Jan. 13 and for the Trustee’s meeting, Wright said the costs presented to the board were “only estimates.”

“I feel the bids will come in lower than the actual estimates,” Wright said.

Miller said the township’s attorney, Peter Goodstein, reviewed the agreement and was in favor of it. Another key point in the agreement, Miller pointed out, is that if one municipality defaults on the agreement, the other municipality is not responsible. Treasurer Sandra Wright told the board that the estimated cost for the township, which fluctuate around $40,000 a year for the next 20 years, could come out of the township’s sewer and water budget.

“Will we eventually have to do this?” asked Trustee Frank Kasle.

“The township wanted to do this for 10-12 years now, but the stimulus dollars has put an impetus behind it to get moving,” Wright said. “Baker has potential problems with the dead-end line and possible expansions. If Burton does it along, it will be much smaller and only service Burton customers. It’s the township’s decision on how to pay.”

Kasle asked if it was the township’s intent to pay their portion out of the sewer and water fund, is the fund capable of doing that. Wright, in turn, told Kasle that the township should not ignore the 2.5 percent interest rate since it was “really good to spread the cost over time.”

“I think if we don’t get residents or businesses to reimburse the cost (to the township), it will come out of the fund,” Kasle said. Wright said that most communities receive their money back when residents and businesses connect to the water.

“The bottom line is that you will get your money back when they connect to the system,” he said.

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