After 11 water district public hearings held last summer and last week, the Marilla Town Board has unanimously agreed to turn the town’s four water districts over to the Erie County Water Authority to maintain.

Council members Barbara Spanitz, Beth Ackerman and Warren Handley, the most skeptical members of the board regarding the issue, voted yes, explaining that it was what the public wanted. Councilmen Donald Darrow and Supervisor George Gertz favored the move from the beginning of the debate a year ago.

When the turnover is complete, the authority will be responsible for capital improvements, maintenance and replacement of water pipes, water tank, and pumping stations for Water Districts 2, 3, 4 and 5. Last summer, the town had the water tank painted by Amstar of WNY and water district residents in Water Districts 2, 3 and 4 shared the cost in a bond. Water District 5 did not participate as they were the newest district formed.

The first move by the Town Board will be a letter to the authority announcing the vote and asking to set up a contract. Gertz announced that the authority wants to treat the four districts as one large district for maintenance purposes but the debt load for bonding will continue to be the responsibility of the individual districts.

Annual maintenance fees will be the same.

A fund set up for Water District 2 by a lawsuit settlement with Milhurst Construction regarding stone bedding for the pipeline will require Milhurst to continue to give District 2 $5,000 a year for 20 years to deal with any possible construction problems in the future. The money will go toward paying off this district’s bond. The fund was established due to a settlement agreement in 2008.

Gertz said he held numerous hearings last summer to make certain all the homeowners in those water districts could have their say. Not many did. Of the possible 1,826 water customers who could have attended the hearings, only 50 showed up, and most of them were in favor of the turnover.