November 28, 2012 - Grantwood Village trustees are considering giving up their monthly stipends to create "seed money" for a sewer lateral program maintained by St. Louis County.
"We took these positions as trustees not for that $400 a month stipend," Trustee Kevin Kelso said at the board's meeting last week. "The trustees could easily forego their salary for a year or two off of this and there's $48,000 right there to put up. And I'd be willing to put that to a vote of the people to do that. I didn't take this job for the little bit of stipend."
But Trustee Will Larson questioned what would happen to the "seed money" if the trustees give up their stipends and the voters do not approve establishment of the program.
"That's the first knot in the dental floss," Larson said. "The second part of that is if we're going to sacrifice our stipends for a sewer lateral, I think there's better things we might be able to use that money for, such as the streets. So, I think if we're going to forego some stipend, let's make sure that we've done our due diligence and (we're) using that money for the best possible purpose."
Kelso said the village already generates funds for street repairs from different revenue sources, but no money currently is being generated for a sewer lateral program.
"This is an easy way to generate money (with) no taxes. No one raises anyone's taxes," Kelso said. "I don't think any of us took this job for the $400 a month, and that would accumulate some money quickly."
Kelso also said he believes the issue should not placed before voters until the seed money is available.
St. Louis County Municipal Contract Manager Anthony Simpson presented the county's sewer lateral program to the trustees last week. Simpson said the village, by a vote of the people, can enact a tax that "allows you to assess yourselves (from $28) up to $50 a year for the purpose of repairing sewer laterals."
"If one of you has a sewer problem, you contact a sewer cabler. The cabler comes in, cable the sewer and runs a television camera down it," Simpson said. "If the television camera determines that it is a broken sewer lateral, the program pays for the breach, pays to repair the breach. It doesn't repair or replace the entire lateral, it repairs the break."
The county program covers about 25 municipalities, according to Simpson, and conducts roughly 1,000 sewer lateral repairs per year. Thirty-five licensed contractors, who are also bonded and insured, are on the county's list .
"All in all it's a very good for everyone. It saves the property owner the expense in the case of when you start have sewer lateral problems. If you don't have the money readily available, it's hard to fix," Simpson said. "And it also, it protects the community."
Simpson said the county solicits and awards the bids, issues permits, inspects the location in question and its restoration. The only expense to the village, according to Simpson, is having the sewer cabled and running the camera, which costs up to roughly $250.
"Everything else we do, and the average cost of a sewer repair in St. Louis County right now is about $3,000," Simpson said. "We charge 10 percent to administer the program."
The board voted unanimously to have Village Attorney Rich Magee look into the trustees foregoing their salaries to start a sewer lateral fund.