Owners of 32 properties in the city have been let off the hook for another six months, to have scheduling in place with a
contractor to hook up to either city sewer, city water, or both.
The deadline had been December 31 and now the council has extended it to June 30, 2013.
The city council took the action last Thursday after discussing the matter with Zoning Administrator Carie Fuhrman.
Five properties in the city still have to be hooked up to municipal sewer, 16 to city water, and 11 properties need to be hooked into both.
One fact that seemed to make the decision easy to extend the deadline was that not all the owners of properties that need to be hooked into city services had been notified of the Dec. 31 deadline. Fuhrman explained that she didn’t want to notify some of the residents yet because she wanted to first see if there were any grants or other sources of funding assistance to tell them about.
The costs of hooking into city sewer in Princeton range from $8,002-$10,702, while the cost of hooking into city water is $7,425-$10,025. Those totals reflect the sewer access charges of $4,202 per unit for sewer and $3,825 per unit for water, the cost to abandon a septic system ($400-500), the cost to seal a well ($200-600), and also the cost of the actual hookups. It costs $1,400-4,000 to run a hookup from the building to the main line in the street for sewer, and $1,400-3,600 to do the same for water. Also, a deposit of $2,000 is required for digging in the street, which would be refundable when the work is done.
Fuhrman noted that when the council, a year ago, set the Dec. 31, 2012 deadline for scheduling hooking into city sewer or water, that it also directed city staff members to look into funding sources such as grants or loans to help the affected property owners.
Fuhrman noted that research was made into programs through the state health department, state pollution control agency, the state public facilities authority, soil and water conservation district (SWCD) and the county in general. But it appears there are few programs that qualify, Fuhrman told the council.
“The good news,” Fuhrman reported, is that one property owner will be taking advantage of a Clean Water Assistance Grant through Mille Lacs County to hook up to municipal sewer. Also, the Mille Lacs SWCD received a clean water fund grant for sealing wells within the Drinking Water Safety Management Area to cover 50 percent of the cost to seal eligible wells, Fuhrman noted.
Fuhrman added that city staff members have also been looking into the possibility of an Agriculture Best Management Practices loan through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. If that loan was given, it would only cover the sewer hookup costs. Staff members, meanwhile, continue to research any other possible funding help for hooking up to city water.
Fuhrman also asked the council if the city would allow people to continue to use their private wells for lawn irrigation.
The council responded that since city water is under the jurisdiction of the Princeton Public Utilities Commission, that body should discuss it and give a recommendation on it to the council.
City Administrator Mark Karnowski noted that if the casing cracks in a private well within a city, the owner must cap the well and not drill a new one.
Council member Thom Walker asked about the possibility of assessing property owners for hooking into city utilities.
Mayor Jeremy Riddle answered that an assessment couldn’t take place since the work would be done inside private property.
It’s important to hook up to city sewer and water and “we need to make it happen somehow,” Walker said.
Council member Victoria Hallin agreed, and added that the city has to try to alleviate the cost of the hookups.
“I agree that it’s important to get people hooked up to city sewer and water but if some have not been notified to hook up by Dec. 31, that is one heck of a Christmas present,” Dobson said.
Hallin recalled her personal experience about not being hooked up once to city water. It was sometime in the 1980s, when she had a home in the south residential part of the city and she learned, after some years, that the home wasn’t hooked into city water. One of her children developed blue baby syndrome from the home’s water source being contaminated by a fertilizer plant in the city, she said.
Dobson said he feels that even with city staff members having done an excellent job in researching funding sources, they have spent as much time as they should on the matter.