KINGFIELD — As selectmen prepare for a Dec. 17 public hearing on rate increases for users of the waste-water system, they also must meet a Dec. 21 deadline for a ratepayer survey.
Over the past year, selectmen developed funding options to refurbish and replace several key pieces of existing sewer infrastructure. All of those options would require renovations to residential, neighborhood and large-diameter pump stations.
Currently, the system collects raw sewage and transports it to the municipal waste-water treatment plant. A centrifuge used in sludge handling in the treatment plant also must be replaced. All of the estimated costs for these improvements are expensive, but the necessary $500,000 overhaul can’t be paid by increasing rates.
Selectmen plan to apply for a Community Development Block Grant from the Maine Office of Community Development. In order to qualify for the grant, town officials must provide an income survey of residents on the system. They have hired Maine Rural Water Association, a nonprofit organization in Richmond, to conduct a confidential household income survey. Using four students from the University of Maine at Farmington, surveying more than 200 ratepayers by the Dec. 21 deadline will be time-consuming.
“Eligibility for this grant is, in large part, based upon the income level of the town’s waste-water customers,” Administrative Assistant Douglas Marble said at the Monday evening selectmen’s meeting.
The CDBG application asks for results from 100 percent of the ratepayers if the town is to be considered eligible for the grant. The confidential four-question survey seeks the number of people living in the household and the general income ranges, he said. Respondents do not give their names, and survey results only go to the Maine Rural Water Association.
“We’ll have some people going door-to-door if we haven’t heard from everyone by mail or by phone,” Marble said.
With only four student volunteers, he expects that he will be part of the afternoon and evening survey sessions in downtown neighborhoods. Surveys have been mailed to those addresses on the waste-water system map, but he does not expect everyone will read and respond.
“Household income is the total income of all money earners in the household, including all earned and unearned income, Social Security, unemployment, government assistance, and retirement income,” Marble said.
For more information, call Doug Marble at the town office at 265-4637, or MRWA representative Alex Wong, at 737-4092.