By Polly Lynn Mikula
KILLINGTON—At a regularly scheduled meeting held Thursday, Aug. 17, members of Sherburne Fire District #1 discussed the appropriate costs for an ERU within the district. Equivalent residential unit (ERU) is a standard measurement of wastewater, which incurs the same costs for operation and maintenance as the average domestic wastes discharged from a single-family residence within a service area. The service area for Sherburne Fire District #1 runs along Killington Road from The Woods at Killington to the Glazebrook Condominiums.
The first matter of cost at the Thursday meeting was whether or not to approve all 56.45 ERUs applied for by current ERU holders at $100 per unit. The nominal fee per unit was offered only to current ERU holders and was originally going to be capped at 40.
The district made the offer in order to get the fire district back above its minimum of 980 ERUs set by ordinance, after Amherst Realty, LLC (The Woods Partnership) returned 40 ERUs to the district. The district had been at 988 ERUs before the 40 were returned; without them they were down to 948.
“We really didn’t know if we were even going to be able to sell the 40,” said Mary Furlong, a member of the fire district, at the meeting Thursday.
The $100 offer did come with a stipulation: “Once purchased, these new ERUs will not be able to be returned to the Fire District in the future and will remain an ongoing Operation & Maintenance assessment obligation on the property; even if they are never connected and remain as Non-User ERUs,” District Manager David Lewis wrote to all current holders.
After some discussion, mainly on the system’s capacity which was deemed to be plenty sufficient, the board unanimously approved all 56.45 units at the $100 rate.
“Ninety percent of those applications will be non-connecting ERUs,” Lewis guessed, adding that the increased capacity that some area businesses will now have removes them from the “questionable list,” removing future conflicts.
In addition to the initial cost of an ERU, the Operation and Maintenance (O&M) assessment is $380/ERU annually for non-connected holders and $440/ERU for connected users.
In addition to application from existing ERU holders, three non-holders had submitted applications for consideration by the board. Each requested one or two ERUs for residential use. However, the board deemed it unfair to honor the requests without assessing the demand from other non-holders within the district and making an offer for all to participate.
“There could be others,” member Chris Karr noted at the meeting, but later acknowledged that there were very few vacant properties left within the fire district and those currently not on the sewer system had septic systems and were, therefore, unlikely to voluntarily join the sewer due to the cost of connecting (site-work, design, permits, etc.) when they have an existing solution.
After agreeing not to extend the $100 rate to the three non-holder applicants, a discussion about the appropriate price for an ERU moving forward continued.
At a price of $12,000, a total of five ERUs had been purchased over the past 10 years, Lewis noted. In the past, when ERU holders return ERUs to the district they have received a refund of $5,634.11, he added.
“In my opinion, selling 80-100 more ERUs would be a good thing,” Lewis said.
Numbers ranging from $100 to $12,000 were discussed. In the end, $5,634.11 was unanimously approved by the board as the new cost for an ERU for both existing and new ERU holders.
“There won’t be a rush to buy, but it’s a balanced approach,” said Furlong.
Lewis told the board he would send out a letter to all properties within the fire district letting them know of the reduced price.
The board agreed that it will continue to process any requests for refunds for returned ERUs on a case-by-case basis.