County considers creating Silver Creek Sewer Assessment Area
Favorable decision could extend sewer to Lower Silver Creek
February 14, 2017
Summit County Health Department Director Rich Bullough recently urged the Summit County Council to seriously consider forming a voluntary assessment area in the lower Silver Creek neighborhood near the Interstate 80 and U.S. 40 junction.
Most of the homes and businesses in the lower Silver Creek area use septic systems to deal with on-site wastewater, according to a county staff report. The report stated that Silver Creek has been identified as "one of the critical priority areas for sewer expansion" in Western Summit County and a main source of pollutants for the East Canyon Creek, which serves roughly 600,000 people in the Wasatch Back and Front.
Bullough suggested the county form the assessment area or consider issuing a building moratorium.
"The implications are pretty dire and we are trying to put Band-aids on to make this work," Bullough said during the County Council meeting on Wednesday, Feb. "Once sewer is brought into this area septic is not an option and if there is any future growth there, they will be on sewer."
Robert Olson, former chairman of the Service Area No. 3, said the current septic system utilized in Silver Creek needs improvement. Service Area No. 3 has jurisdiction over water rights, 22 miles of roads, and trails and parks. Properties within the development are identified as being in either the upper or lower precinct. Those in the upper precinct have lots that are 10 acres or more. Lower precinct lots contain less than 2.5 acres.
"We feel that, eventually, you have to have a sewer system so you can be able to alleviate the problem associated with septic systems. But we are concerned about the fact that once sewer is in, a lot of people will want to come in and be involved with the area commercially.
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"But we realize this comes with progress, I would just say we need to look at this very carefully," Olson said.
The Utah Division of Drinking Water (DDW) agreed to extend sewer to the area through an assessment bond, along with matching grant with the county. A staff report said the bond is a "one‐time opportunity and if we cannot find a way to utilize the financing currently on the table, we are not at all optimistic sewer will ever be extended to this area." The Water Board authorized a no-interest $1,030,000 loan for a term of 20 years, although the county had requested 30 years.
Twenty property owners, out of 36 lot owners, signed waivers to join the assessment area, but only agreed to pay a maximum annual assessment of $1,700 per year for 30 years. If the bond is for 20 years, the annual assessment would increase to approximately $2,110 or require a balloon payment of more than $150,000. Bullough said property owners would not agree to go above $1,700.
"The original estimate was $1,200 a year and the property owners came on board. Then it came in at $1,760," Bullough said. "This is not an inexpensive project and it needs to happen, but we pulled teeth to get the $1,700."
Bullough and Dave Thomas, Summit County's chief deputy attorney, went over the various funding options to cover a balloon payment in the final year of the bond, including having the county provide a $100,000 grant that the DDW would potentially match.
Vincent Pao-Borjigin, the current board chair for Service Area No. 3, suggested contributing toward the balloon payment in exchange for roadwork improvements. Additional properties could also be annexed into the assessment area to provide the needed funds.
The County Council is scheduled today, Feb. 15, to consider adopting a public notice advertising the designation of the voluntary assessment area. Notices will be mailed to every property owner and published in local media outlets. Staff will also ask the council to establish March 29 as the date participating property owners are required to submit their waivers by to avoid a four percent interest fee. A public hearing for establishing the assessment area is tentatively scheduled for April 5.
The DDW is expected to make a decision about a matching grant in April and staff will likely present a resolution and ordinance establishing the assessment area after the decision. Construction could begin as soon as June, according to a county staff report.
To view the public notice, go to http://summitcounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/4522.