Genoa sewer agreement leaves residents dissatisfied

GENOA - Genoa resident H. William Brooks agrees sewer service is an amenity, but he doesn't agree with the contract prospective customers have been asked to sign.

He says it has a "weasel clause" and "an accumulation of disincentives" that are unfair.

Town board members Steve Hollister and Bernie Carter are also skeptical of the agreement, which asks potential customers to commit to hooking up to a sewer line if one is extended to the town. They say the sewer extension should be guaranteed, not dependent on financial factors.

"I think we are really getting the hind end of this deal," Hollister told the county commission last week.

The "weasel clause" is a standard part of every county bid package stating that an actual contract might not be awarded, such as in cases where bids exceed the funds available. The county hasn't yet solicited bids for the main sewer line that is to be extended along the Foothill Road corridor, or for the two secondary lines that are to serve Genoa's Main Street, so officials don't know if the $3 million they have budgeted will cover the project.

If the bids are too high, the project might not be done and the clause relieves the county of having to provide sewer service.

Carter says sewer service to Genoa should be a priority.

"To do anything else ... is deceptive to the people of Genoa," he said.

Hollister says Genoa's long-term contributions to county coffers should be considered.

"Genoa was here first. Genoa has been producing taxes for years and years and years," said Hollister.

Others took issue with the prospect of being responsible for maintaining and repairing connecting pipes that will reach under public roads. The line is to start near David Walley's and extend north past Genoa Lakes, then east to the North Valley Wastewater Treatment Plant. The town's topography makes direct installation of a sewer line difficult and expensive, but if enough people will connect, spurs could be extended up Foothill Road and Genoa Lane.

County commissioners refused to change the agreement. They say the agreement is the same that is offered to other areas, and if anything Genoa has been treated better than other Carson Valley communities that have recently received sewer service.

"We're not forcing anybody to sign anything," said Commissioner Kelly Kite. "It's the same thing everyone else pays. It's the same thing everyone else gets."

Unlike other areas, sewer connections are optional for Genoans, and participating property owners will have three years to pay the connection fees.

Sewer connection fees are based on "equivalent dwelling units," which calculate use based on single-family homes. The fee is $5,800 per unit. Owners of commercial buildings or properties including multiple buildings will pay more, based on how many restrooms they have and how many units' worth of sewer capacity they would likely use.

Those fees aren't expected to equal the county's costs for building the line. A combination of redevelopment and sewer fund money is to be used for the project.

"We're leveraging everything we've got to get this into the neighborhood," said Commissioner Jacques Etchegoyhen. "This may not be a perfect solution, but it's the first time anybody ever brought this forward."

Bids are to be sought later in the year.


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