Turtle Creek 1 residents to vote on water services
Published 10:31 am Thursday, February 26, 2015
Residents living west of Interstate 90 in the Turtle Creek 1 neighborhood may not get water services once the city of Austin begins a sewer project in the near future.
About 17 of 21 property owners in the 28-property neighborhood supported getting water services Wednesday in a straw poll at a public information meeting.
According to Austin Utilities General Manager Mark Nibaur, the utilities company will only build a water system for the recently annexed Austin neighborhood if 90 percent or more of the residents support it. That means 25 out of 28 homes need to let the utilities company know they want city water services.
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“We normally have 100 percent buy-in,” Nibaur told residents.
In addition, about five out of 11 affected homes supported a road paving project scheduled to take place at the same time.
Several Turtle Creek 1 homeowners have tried to get sewer and water access to the neighborhood, formerly of Austin Township, since 2013.
The council formally approved the annex in late 2013, and work went under way to hook those residents up to the city’s sewer and water grid.
Public Works Director Steven Lang gave a presentation on the Turtle Creek 1 projects last year, showing the sewer hookup would cost about $22,900 per property for the sewer project, and about $9,500 to install the water main in the neighborhood. The project could include a potential street paving project for about $4,600 and a water service hookup for about $1,500, should residents wish to have that included.
Yet after consulting with Austin Utilities, city officials found the cost to complete those projects would rise.
City officials secured $461,000 from a Point Source Implementation Grant, as well as another $98,000 to help bring costs down after project bids came in much higher than anticipated. Lang told the audience the city had estimated the projects would cost about $614,000, but the lowest bid cost about $901,000.
A sewer project will now cost about $17,000 per household, with an additional $12,000 per household for water.
“I’m ready for it,” said property owner Bob Brinkman.
Yet many residents were concerned with the rising costs, which Lang said Wednesday was due to labor and rising material costs. But those same residents saw the improvements as a necessary evil.
“There isn’t much you can do,” Ken Overocker said.
City staff are also giving Turtle Creek 1residents a little more leeway when it comes to hooking up to the city’s systems. Residents can either pay the assessment cost for planned sewer work all at once, over the next 15 years, or wait to hook up to the sewer system.
The two homes with compliant sewer systems can wait up to five years before hooking up to the city.
City staff are using an assessment model with Turtle Creek 1 residents rather than its recently designed sewer access fee charge as the city began working on the project before the fee was in place.