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January 23, 2013 - Grantwood Village residents will decide Tuesday, April 2, if they want a sewer lateral insurance program for the village.
The Board of Trustees approved a resolution with a 3-0 vote last week to place the issue on ballot. The board also approved an ordinance in a 3-0 vote to create a fund for the program. Trustees Walter Rust and Will Larson abstained on both votes.
Building Commissioner Bob Bess told the board he believes it is "necessary" to try and establish the program to reassure residents that if they have a sewer lateral program "it's not going to be a great financial burden on them."
The board previously voted to forgo its monthly stipends to create "seed money" for the fund. A bank account was established for that seed money after the December board meeting — at which time the board approved withholding its stipends — but before the Jan. 15 meeting.
Larson said it seems that would be a "two-step process," where the funds are withheld for January and then — if the measure passes — the funds would go to the sewer lateral fund in February.
But Kienstra said by having the former stipends in a new bank account, the village shows the funds are "not available in general, unallocated revenue."
"It's already allocated is what we're showing, which is compliant with the motion from December," Kienstra said.
When Rust questioned if the village has to have a motion to open bank accounts, Kienstra said, "We have that this evening."
Rust said the board has "got the cart before the horse on this."
"An account shouldn't have been opened until all the documentation has been approved and finalized," Rust said.
However, Kienstra said there is "nothing illegal or improper about opening the account."
"We wouldn't keep it open if this doesn't pass this evening," Kienstra said before voting. "By opening the account, the money that is set aside is specifically set aside and easily identifiable … It is proper to set it aside and you could have set it aside a number of different ways, and one of the ways to do it is to have a separate account."
Rust made a motion to table reading the resolution until the board's February meeting "so that we have the opportunity to read the documents and analyze them and formulate any questions that we might have." The motion failed.
At last month's meeting, Rust requested documentation be available to trustees the Friday before meetings "for the trustees to read and review and formulate any questions they have."
"Trustees did not receive these (documents for the sewer lateral program) until last evening," Rust said. "I, for one, did not have time to thoroughly review everything so I could formulate any questions. And I feel that this is a problem in Grantwood Village that we just rush to do things ..."
Kienstra said the resolution was not a document "trustees had input on in terms of determining the language."
"The language was determined by the state," Kienstra said.
Kienstra also said if the board waited to approve the resolution until the February meeting, it would miss the window to place the issue on the April ballot.
If residents do not approve the sewer lateral program in April, Kienstra said the board "can take whatever action it sees fit" to determine what happens to those funds that have been set aside due to the forgoing of stipends.
If approved by voters, Proposition S would establish a fund to help pay for repairs to sewer laterals. Each homeowner would pay a maximum of $50 annually.
Currently, homeowners foot the bill for sewer lateral repairs, but the sewer lateral insurance program would provide assistance for homes with no more than six dwelling units.