By Caitlin Croft

Ellicottville’s town and village boards held a special meeting Dec. 4 regarding the merger of the municipalities’ water and sewer districts. This is a project that has taken roughly over a year to complete due to a complex legal process.

Town Engineer Niles Pierson has spearheaded the project and it has been his primary focus in his almost two years working for both municipalities. The boards felt it was best to get together and discuss some of the last issues in a special joint meeting.

Essentially what will be happening is the town will adopt a new sewer law transferring all assets to the village, and the village will adopt a new water law transferring water assets to the town.

In addition to the Inter-Municipal Agreements (IMAs) for maintenance between the town and the village, there are IMAs for the towns of Great Valley and Mansfield as well. These two municipalities have parcels that connect to one or both of the districts.

The point of these mergers is to eliminate a level of government on each side. There will be only one board that regulates the sewer and one for the water instead of having to consult both boards for each system. This also gets the town and village residents on the same rate structure.

For residential users there will be a minimum rate and then charges for overages just as the current structure works. Rates will increase on the water but decrease on the sewer.

There will be four commercial classes, Pierson advised. First, small businesses that are non-food services, such as clothing and gift stores; second will be restaurants; Third, breweries and resorts; and fourth, industrial such as Fitzpatrick & Weller.

There will be minimum rates just as in residential with charges for usage above the minimum. Charges will continue to be billed on a quarterly basis.

There was discussion regarding parcels that are in the water and sewer district but are not tied into the system. There is a significant cost associated with hooking into the water and sewer system that falls on the parcel owners.

There was mention of requiring homes and parcels to hook in on the transfer of real property. Town attorney Kathleen Moriarty advised that people would see this as devaluing property seeing as a new buyer would be required to make a large investmaent immediately after purchasing the real property.

There will be further research on how to achieve the goal of all parcels in the district being tied into the system. There is an issue with the Sun-Up Mobile Park and how that is metered. They are looking for the best solution for all parties involved.

The town has set a public hearing for the water and sewer regulations for Dec. 18 at 6 p.m.