Suffolk leaders: Aid key for sewer project

Suffolk County Legislator Lou D'Amaro asks questions to

Suffolk County Legislator Lou D'Amaro asks questions to members of the Budget Review Office about a pending motion to approve a bond to borrow money against state revenues during a meeting of the Suffolk Legislature in Riverhead. (March 13, 2012) (Credit: Ed Betz)

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Expanding sewers into parts of Babylon and Islip towns will only proceed if largely funded by federal and state money, Suffolk officials said after seeing a feasibility study.

Legislators said at a public meeting in North Babylon on Wednesday that without funding, the project is dead. "If we don't get at least 80 percent funding, I don't even remotely see how we go forward with this," said Legis. Lou D'Amaro (D-North Babylon).

As the federal government no longer funds these projects outright, legislators said such funding would have to be cobbled together from various sources.


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The final report of a study commissioned by Suffolk legislators was presented at the meeting. The study was conducted by D&B Engineers and Architects and Gannett Fleming Engineers PC, both of Woodbury, as well as LiRo Program and Construction Management of Syosset.

Without the funding, the cost to bring sewers to six areas of Babylon and Islip -- Wyandanch, Wheatley Heights, Deer Park, West Babylon, North Babylon and West Islip -- is estimated at just over $2 billion.

The cost of bringing sewers to only the five subareas most in need -- in North Babylon and Wyandanch, based on depth groundwater and development density -- would be $907 million, the study found.

With a 30-year bond and an interest rate of 2 percent to 4 percent, the annual cost to the 5,100 homeowners in those areas would be from $7,900 to $10,300. At 20 percent funding, the annual cost to homeowners in the five areas would be $6,300 to $8,200. At 80 percent, it would be $1,600 to $2,000.

Even the smaller amounts drew an outcry among residents, many of whom said they could not afford the extra tax burden.

"From an environmental point of view, I'm very much in favor," said Joan Mahoney, 54, of North Babylon. "As a homeowner, when you're talking about raising my taxes close to $2,000, I don't know."

Legis. Wayne Horsley (D-Babylon) said he's optimistic the county's sewer districts could merge with the Suffolk County Water Authority, which he said could lower the costs.

D'Amaro stressed urgency because of the area's high water table and the fact that 70 percent of the county relies on cesspools and septic tanks, which could contaminate drinking water.The report can be viewed at swsuffolksewers.org.

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