Some on Norfolk council worry that county taxpayers could be on the hook for some of the costs associated with extending municipal water into Booth’s Harbour.
Recently, Norfolk council approved $299,000 for the preliminary work needed to improve water service in the lakeside community.
Prior to approval, Simcoe Coun. Doug Brunton asked why Norfolk hasn’t entered into a contract with the 100 households involved to cover all county costs.
“This is a local improvement based on a petition by the owners,” Brunton said. “Why are we putting money out without an agreement in place?”
Simcoe Coun. Peter Black agreed.
“The beneficiaries should pay,” he said. “Not the ratepayers; not the taxpayers. Do the residents understand that?”
At issue is a $299,000 expenditure to hire an engineering firm to consult with Booth’s Harbour residents and prepare drawings, draw up tender documents, and supervise the work ahead.
At its July 10 meeting, Norfolk council awarded the contract to R.V. Anderson Associates of London. R.V. Anderson has provided consulting services in recent years on upgrades and improvements to Norfolk’s water and wastewater system.
The consultation phase will cost $25,200. At council’s meeting, county engineer Gary Houghton said there is likely no way to recoup this money if Norfolk or residents of Booth’s Harbour decide to call the project off. Norfolk CAO David Cribbs agreed.
“If this doesn’t get past the first phase, there is no user to charge,” he said.
Residents of Booth’s Harbour asked the county last year to extend the feeder main that runs from Port Rowan into St. Williams into their community.
The private water system in Booth’s Harbour is faltering and water pressure has been an issue. Norfolk agreed to improve service with the understanding that property owners in Booth’s Harbour would pay 100 per cent of the cost.
The fact Norfolk is spending money it might not retrieve wasn’t the only criticism Tuesday.
Port Rowan Coun. Noel Haydt said the cost of consulting services is excessive.
“The price of Phase II is absolutely ludicrous,” Haydt said. “That $275,000 doesn’t pay for a single meter or put any pipe in the ground. We’re talking 100 houses. That’s $3,000 a home.
“I was talking to a plumbing contractor this weekend and he was laughing so hard that he nearly fell out of his truck. We already have the pipes in the ground.”
Brunton and Black were unable to support the resolution, which passed in a majority vote.
“This whole approach is backward,” Brunton said. “It’s going to cost $275,000 for drawings. It’s going to cost at least $275,000 to put a system in the ground. That’s $6,000 per household. Where’s the agreement that Booth’s Harbour residents are going to pay for this?”