A multi-million water project in the Town of Evans is way behind schedule, and now it’s way over budget.

Evans needs to borrow another $3 million in order to complete the work, and has scheduled a public hearing on the matter for 6:15 p.m. Thursday in Evans Town Hall, 8787 Erie Road.

In 2007, the town borrowed more than $12 million to install new water lines, hydrants and a water storage tower, but rather than put that money in a separate account, as required, the town combined the money with the rest of the town’s funds, a recent state audit showed.

As a result, more than $2 million designated for the capital project was used to cover other operating expenses.

Now, the water project still isn’t finished and total borrowing for the project has ballooned by another $3 million to more than $16 million.

In fact, costly debt incurred by the water project and water rates that aren’t high enough to support the increased expense of operations are considered the biggest reasons for the town’s recent budget woes.

“It’s draining us,” said Supervisor Keith E. Dash. “It’s the thing that’s creating this crunch, as far as cash flow, and we have to move on it. This is the only way to do it.”

The town wants to complete the work so it can turn over water operations to the Erie County Water Authority.

The $3 million in new borrowing would include the cost to install 8,000 linear feet of water lines in the town, as well as build a new water storage tank.

“The biggest thing right now is the water tower,” said Scott P. Dill, an accountant with Johnson, Mackowiak & Associates, the Fredonia firm serving as the town’s financial consultant. “That’s the majority of that $3 million.”