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Oxford to pursue sewer easements

OXFORD, Ga. – After the city council declined to take action on sewer tap fees at its Monday night meeting, Oxford Mayor Jerry Roseberry gave Assistant City Manager Matthew Pepper and Utilities Department Superintendent Jody Reid the go ahead to start visiting 28 homes along Emory Street to acquire easements needed for the city’s sewer system expansion with the understanding that the current fee schedule is subject to change.

Under the current plan, approved by the council at its May 1 meeting, homeowners will be required to pay a $3,600 fee to hook-up to the sewer. Those homeowners who pay the fee upfront will receive a 10% discount. Homeowners who choose to pay the hook-up fee in monthly installments will pay $60 a month plus a $5 monthly service fee for 60 months.

Oxford has an ordinance requiring all homes within 100 feet of a sewer line to be connected to it.

In exchange for the 28 easements needed to install the system, under the current plan the city will reimburse those homeowners up to $1,800 toward the costs of having their house connected to the system and closing their septic tank.

After homeowners came out in force to a May 15 work session to voice their disapproval with the plan, the council and the mayor said the fee issue would be revisited.

Roseberry said acquiring the easements and moving forward with the sewer project now is important because the Emory Street/Interstate 20 pedestrian bridge and sidewalk is scheduled to go out for bids in October.

“As we’ve talked about many times before, we do not want to put to put the sidewalk down before we put the sewer down,” he said, “We don’t want to do that. We need to move ahead with this.

Roseberry told members that former City Manager Bob Schwartz said many citizens want to know the cost of hooking up to the system before they approve an easement.

“The contact our prior city manager had with the public was they would like to know if the council is going to change the fee before they would decide if they were going to grant an easement,” he said.

Post 4 Councilmember David Eady said he was told the fee issue would be discussed in August.

“I feel like we need to have a work session with ample public notice to all the parties involved who would be affected, the 42 properties who would be affected so that we can have a more thorough discussion,” he said.

Pepper laid out the timeline for the project provided by City Engineer Robert Johnson.

“If we’re able to acquire the easements by August or September, and the GDOT approval, which we’re on pace to get by that time, we can start receiving bids in November, you, as a council, can hopefully choose a contractor by December,” he said.

“We can start construction in February of 2018 and then hopefully have that completed by May of 2018.”

Pepper said the sewer tap fees will be on the agenda for the council’s August 14 work session.