Warehime vetoes bill to raise water, sewer fees NORTH--Manchester * Hampstead * Lineboro

August 04, 1993|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer

In what is apparently the first veto by a Manchester mayor since the 1960s, Manchester Mayor Earl A. J. "Tim" Warehime Jr. has blocked an ordinance passed by the Town Council that would have raised water and sewer connection fees.

Yesterday, Mr. Warehime said he vetoed the measure because the council had deleted from it an extended-payment option. The option would have allowed residents to spread the cost of the fees over four years, in return for paying a $50 administrative charge.

The ordinance passed at the July 13 council meeting raised the connection fee for homes that hooked up to the town's sewer system from $1,500 to $1,750. It also raised the water service connection fee from $1,500 to $1,750.

At the request of Councilman John A. Riley, the council deleted the extended-payment option before passing the measure.

Mr. Riley said at the meeting that the Manchester town charter contains a special-assessments provision that gives the Town Council the power to allow people to spread such fees.

He said the charter-based power allows the council to "tailor the agreement to the project."

The ordinance, without the extended-payment option, passed on a 4-1 vote. Councilman Robert Kolodziejski opposed the measure.

The Town Council can override the mayor's veto with a vote of 4-1.

But Councilwoman Charlotte B. Collett said yesterday she would not vote to override the mayor's veto.

Mr. Riley said yesterday he had no objection to spreading the cost of the payments. However, he said, he believes it should be done on a project-by-project basis, using the power set out in the charter.

He said the town invoked the charter to allow residents of Bert Fowler Road and Hilltop Drive to spread the cost of hooking up to town utilities.

Mr. Warehime said yesterday that the special-assessment provision of the charter can be used, but that it is "much harder" to proceed that way. Using the charter power, he said, would require the council to pass a new ordinance each time the town's water or lines expand to reach a new group of existing homes.

Councilwoman Kathryn L. Riley said yesterday she supports using the charter power to authorize extended-payment plans.

She also said she did not think a $50 administrative charge would cover the cost to the town of extending credit to residents for a four-year period.

Mr. Warehime said he has suggested rewriting the ordinance to eliminate the $50 fee and replace it with a different mechanism to pay for the credit, such as an interest rate linked to the prime rate.

He said Manchester residents need an extended-payment plan because construction costs have risen greatly over the past 20 years.

It now could cost $1,500 to $2,000 for the plumbing to connect a home to the town's water or sewer lines, Mr. Warehime said, in addition to the connection fees charged by the town.

"If somebody has to pay, say, $2,000 for that . . . and then our fees," he said, "that's a little steep."

Mrs. Riley, who served as town clerk-treasurer for more than 23 years before retiring in 1992, said she thinks there was a veto by a Manchester mayor in the late 1960s.

"This is rare," she said, "but he does have that power."

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