Jan. 4—WINSTED — Voters on Saturday will be asked to approve borrowing $2.3 million to supplement a $6.2 million project that includes new water mains and improved water storage tanks in town.

The projects were first proposed in 2021 by the Water and Sewer Commission. Costs to replace a water storage tank on Wallens Hill Road, and build a second tank at Crystal Lake, have increased since the projects first were presented three years ago.

The commission in March received approval from the Board of Selectmen to borrow $6.2 million for the project, which includes replacement of an aging water storage tank on Wallens Hill, construction of a second, smaller storage tank at Crystal Lake and replacing 4,000 feet of water mains on streets served by the water and sewer plant.

In November, Director of Public Works Jim Rollins presented selectmen with an explanation of the cost increases and the need to borrow more funds.

The $6.2 million, he said, was based on estimates the commission developed more than three years ago. Since then, the cost for materials has gone up, and the project costs have increased by more than 35 percent, for a total of $8.5 million.

"The first amount for the Wallens Hill tank was $2.2 million, but our most recent bids show it will cost $3.2 million," Rollins said. "For the tank at Crystal Lake, the first amount was $2.5 million; the most recent bids show $3.1 million. Those are based on increased costs since the project was first developed (in 2018)."

The commission is borrowing the money from the state Department of Public Health's Drinking Water Revolving Fund to pay for the project, which will be paid back over a 20-year schedule. To pay for the improvements, customer rate increases will be phased in over the next five years and will apply to a customer's quarterly base rate, fixtures and a grinder pump maintenance fee. The loans will be paid back using those fees.

Mayor Todd Arcelaschi, during a Board of Selectmen meeting this week, encouraged residents to vote on the project. Saturday's referendum will be held from 8 a.m.to 8 p.m. at the Pearson School. All registered voters are eligible to participate.

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