Lansing closer to landing sewer project

Published 7:10 am Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The process of getting a sanitary sewer system to the newest part of Austin took a significant step forward Monday night.

By a vote of 7-0, City Council passed a resolution that orders the improvement of the sewer system in the Lansing annexation, a 338-acre piece of land to the north of town that officially joined the city early last year. With the resolution, council also authorized the city engineer’s office to advertise for project bids. A final bid could be selected as early as July, which is also when the city wants to start the project.

However, there are issues to be addressed before then, namely those highlighted by a host of frustrated Lansing residents who don’t want the sewer service.

Several of those residents spoke Monday in front of council, and the predominate theme was cost. The city intends to assess the roughly $3.7 million project onto property owners, which would equate to somewhere around $17,000 to $18,000 per household. But several citizens said their rural properties aren’t worth much more than that — one couple said a shed they own in the area is only valued at $41,000 — and that the assessments just don’t make sense in these cases. In fact, the same couple that said their shed is worth only $41,000 said they in fact don’t want or need water or sewer services to the building, but seemingly have no choice but to pay for it.

The city, however, cut short discussion on assessment costs, as there will be a separate hearing coming up on the subject, likely in June. That will be the forum for Lansing residents to file objections to their specific assessments, city officials noted.

Still, not all Lansing residents present Monday voiced objection to the sewer plan. Al Layman, who served on an advisory task force that pushed the project forward in Lansing, said getting to this point was a long process — discussion on the issue began in 2006 — but added that the project will be worth the time when it’s complete.

Layman said Lansing officials studied the possibility of building their own sewer system to deal with the issue of waste discharging into the Cedar River, but said ultimately being annexed into the city was the best route.

“We studied both proposals,” Layman said. “We decided the city offered a better option.”