LEWISTON – Some water bills would be higher and some would be lower if the village’s public water system were turned over to the Town of Lewiston, members of the Village Board were told Tuesday.
Board members are in the very preliminary stages of discussing the advantages and disadvantages in consolidating the local water system with the town system.
The village is part of the town, but its water system is separate from the system that serves parts of the town that are outside the village.
Consolidation into one townwide system could result in a slight reduction in personnel in Village Hall and in its Public Works Department, but some village residents fear that it also could cause reduced maintenance and slower response time for water service complaints.
An informal poll among about 20 village residents at Tuesday’s meeting suggested that some are willing to pay slightly more to retain local control of their infrastructure, while others see advantages to consolidation.
“This is just the first step here,” said Deputy Mayor Bruce Sutherland. “We would have a public hearing before proceeding with any discussion of a transfer. We have a joint meeting with the Town Board at 6 p.m. next Monday in Town Hall, and we probably will talk about it then.”
Trustee Victor Eydt said town officials had suggested taking over the village system, and “that would require a public referendum.”
Richard San Giacomo, an environmental consulting engineer for the village, reviewed the complicated pricing structure under which consolidation would save money for some village water users but cost more for others. The pricing is based on water usage and on assessed property value.
San Giacomo said the average village user would save about $14.15 a year under consolidation, and the average commercial or restaurant user would save considerably more. But those are just averages. Most users would pay more, he said, and a relative few would pay less.
The Niagara County Water District supplies the water for the village and town systems. It would continue to do so regardless of whether there is a consolidation.