BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors have approved a first draft of a resolution that would lower the amount property owners must pay to convert from septic systems to the city's sewer service. But, one City Councilor believes more can be done to help alleviate costs.
Councilor Bill Moseley tells KBND News, "The original plan that was recommended would've cost everybody $25,000; it literally would've thrown people out of their homes. We brought those costs essentially down to an $8,500 connection fee, plus a system development charge." Around 600 homes in southeast Bend need to make the switch in order to comply with state law. "If we charge people $25,000, about 200 families would lose their homes out of 600, so that would be 1/3 of all households would lose their homes as a result of it." He says part of how the City plans to alleviate that cost is by taking on some of the expense of the project. "The city's going to take care of putting what they call a lateral, which is basically the sewage pipe going down your street." But, Moseley says having to fork out even $8,500 won't be possible for many, "I still worry, though, about the cost to families in the southeast part of town. I just think this is going to cause a lot of stress, especially for people on fixed incomes. I think it's still too much money, even though it's an improvement over where we were."
Moseley says the Southeast Interceptor project triggered the state's requirement that Bend phase out septic systems, citywide. But, he believes it wasn't done to force current homeowners to switch to sewer, "That pipe was put in there so that we could build new housing in our city. And I don't have anything against new housing; we need new housing. We have a housing shortage. But, I don't think it's fair to basically trigger this regulatory burden on a bunch of existing homes for the benefit of other people. And that's, essentially, what we've done."
A second reading of the fee resolution is scheduled for December 19.