By Martin Wilbur and Abby Luby
Mount Pleasant and Pleasantville have reached an inter-municipal agreement that is expected to reduce costs to fix water mains and pipes for several hundred town residents who live outside an existing water district.
The Pleasantville Village Board approved the IMA at its Dec. 14 meeting while the Mount Pleasant Town Board followed suit on Dec. 22.
Mount Pleasant Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi said the IMA will allow the town to maintain and fix the village’s water pipes carrying Pleasantville water to non-districted properties since the town has a larger staff and access to more equipment, which should save the affected residents money. When repairs have been needed in those areas in the past, the village has retained a general contractor, which is more expensive, passing on the costs to those residents.
Service will not change for the more than 400 property owners who are outside the village but who do not belong to one of the town’s nine water districts, Fulgenzi said.
Negotiations between the town and the village took close to a year to be completed and there are other tasks to be done before the agreement can take effect, he said.
“We wanted to make sure that the village and the town are all on the same page, but we’re looking forward to being able to do this for our residents and we are looking forward to the next step, which we think would be the best solution in the long run,” Fulgenzi said.
The goal of the IMA, which is renewable annually, is for the Town of Mount Pleasant to establish new water districts to help fund the cost to maintain the village’s water mains and pipes, said Pleasantville Mayor Peter Scherer.
“We think this will help those homeowners cover the costs of repairs that will be lower than an emergency-basis repair by an outside contractor,” said Scherer.
An agreement was reached after a series of three water main breaks occurred in non-districted areas outside the village between August and October, hitting a relatively limited number of homeowners with steep repair costs. In November, residents from the Munson Pond neighborhood appealed to the Village Board after two of the repairs cost some residents close to $1,000.
John Fisher, president of the Munson Pond Association said he was pleased with the recently signed IMA.
“This has been an important development in the water pipeline story,” Fisher said.
Munson Pond resident Anjali Ratnathicam said she and other residents are pleased that the town and the village were able to clear the first major hurdle.
“I think I speak for my neighbors when I say thank you for approving this inter-municipal agreement because I think it’s going to make a big difference to myself and my neighbors and we’re hoping that this will lead to kind of a new fiscal situation for us,” she said to the Mount Pleasant Town Board.
Fisher has asked the town and village if the Munson Pond Association could be part of the decision-making process to create a new water district. Last week, Fisher and Ratnathicam, along with other Munson Pond residents, formed a Pipeline Advisory Committee.
“We have established that there are 113 homeowners in our immediate area that will benefit from reduced costs for future pipeline repairs,” Fisher said. “We are now encouraging the town to take the next step and consider forming a new town water district to service our area.”
However, the process to effectively enact the agreement may still be a few years away, according to Fulgenzi. The properties outside of the district will need to either be included in an existing district or be part of one or more new districts, he said. Since the non-districted areas are not all contiguous, the properties can’t all be grouped into one new district.
Before that can be achieved, Fulgenzi said a study will need to be done to evaluate the extent of the repairs needed in those areas, determine what those costs will be and who will pay for the improvements.
He said it is a long and complicated process that should have been tackled previously.
“This is something that probably should have been looked at years ago and everybody will say, ‘Oh, we should have talked about this before,’” Fulgenzi said. “Everything’s getting older now. We have to bite the bullet.”