FINANCING & FUNDING
Overview of Proposed Sewer Assessment Ordinance
Town Council Mission Statement
“Our mission is to protect the Town of Barnstable’s quality of life and unique character, engage our citizens, and enact policies that respond to and anticipate the needs of our community.”
The health of Barnstable’s coastal waters that is so vital to our quality of life and vibrant economy is at risk. Over the years we have come to learn about the impacts of nitrogen pollution on our coastal estuaries. The primary source of nitrogen pollution is wastewater from onsite septic systems. Even Title V systems allowed under current regulations do nothing to remove the excess nitrogen choking our coastal waters. Likewise, our freshwater ponds and drinking water supply are being degraded from nutrients and pollutants from septic systems, fertilizer, stormwater run-off and other watershed sources. Building wastewater infrastructure to reduce the amount of these pollutants entering our waters is necessary to protect our environment, property values, local economy, and our quality of life.
Addressing the nitrogen pollution in our coastal waters is also the law. Due to excessive nitrogen pollution from surrounding watersheds, many of Barnstable’s coastal embayments are considered “impaired waters” in violation of water quality standards under the federal Clean Water Act. The Town is required to meet regulatory thresholds for acceptable levels of nitrogen in these waters, called Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), or face potential regulatory enforcement action.
Barnstable has developed a science-based plan for meeting the TMDLs and protecting the health of our waters. The Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan (CWMP) is a 30-year construction plan toextendsewerserviceto11,800propertiesacrossTown. Bycollectingandtreatingwastewater,the sewers will safeguard the health of our coastal waters, ponds and drinking water for generations to come. The program also provides ancillary benefits to the community in the form of increased opportunities for housing, economic development and the redevelopment of underutilized property.
The estimated cost of the 30-year plan is approximately $1.4 billion, including construction, borrowing costs and inflation. The Town has already made significant progress in meeting this funding need. Through legislative action at both the state and local levels the Town has created over 50% of the estimated funding sources needed for this program. An existing dedicated revenue stream consisting of proceeds from the hotel/motel room occupancy tax, short- term rental occupancy tax, local meals tax and a new excise tax of 2.75% that applies to all types of lodging on Cape Cod will provide an estimated $600 million for funding this program. As additional properties are brought on-line with the public sewer system an estimated $200 million will be provided from user rate revenue.
With existing spending and revenues accounted for, the remaining funding needed to implement theplanisapproximately$600million. Optionsforfinancingtheplanarebeingdevelopedtoequitably allocate the remaining costs to property owners in accordance with the benefits they will receive from the sewer construction.
All property owners in Town benefit from the quality of life and economic advantages provided by pristine beaches, ponds and drinking water. For this reason, every property owner should contribute to the expansion of the public sewer infrastructure needed to safeguard these resources; even if the property is not planned to be connected to the public sewer system.
The properties that are to be connected to the public sewer system will gain added advantages of state-of-the-art wastewater treatment service, and resulting enhanced property values. A property tied into a public sewer system has the potential to command a higher sales price and increased marketability compared to a similar home with a private on-site system due to the eventual failure of the on-site system and potential significant cost of its replacement. A recent study1 involving active brokers/agents and developers found universal agreement that the introduction of sewers will result in increased market values and greater marketability. The study’s market analysis showed that sewers resulted in an increase in single family residential property values estimated at 6-13% with an average of 8%, and an increase in property values on vacant acreage estimated at 15-25%. In another recent study2 prepared for the Sound View Sewer Coalition, LLC of South Lyme, CT, appraisers concluded that the estimated benefit of public sewer to residential property was 7% and 10% for restaurant/mixed use property. Furthermore, a property tied into the public sewer system will never have to incur the cost of replacing an on-site system, will benefit from reliable sewer service operated and maintained by the Town, and receive an improved roadway in front of their property. Accordingly, one of the options proposed is that property owners required to connect to sewer service pay an additional charge in the form of a sewer assessment for receiving this public benefit.
A Sewer Assessment Ordinance would create a sewer assessment that would apply only to properties that will be receiving sewer service. A cap on the sewer assessment of $17,000 per sewered property is recommended at the start of the program. This amount reflects only a portion of the actual cost of sewering the property. It is also less than the potential increase in property value an owner will benefit from by being connected to sewer service. For example, an assessment of $17,000 represents approximately 4% of the median residential assessed value in town ($388,500) when the connection to sewer service could increase a residential property’s value by as much as 6% to 13% based on the studies referenced above. This would be adjusted annually in accordance with a construction cost index. This is the maximum assessment and some actual assessments could result in a lower amount due to the required project cost allocation method a community must follow. The exact costs for each affected property owner are not known until a project is completed so the Town can only work with estimates in establishing policy.
To provide an example of how the actual cost would be determined; let us assume a main trunk line and pump station (referred to as General Benefit Facilities) are constructed that will ultimately serve a pumping district that includes 1,000 properties. The cost of this infrastructure is $10,000,000. The cost must be distributed equally to all properties within the pumping district. This results in a cost allocation of $10,000 per property for these General Benefit Facilities. A property abutter along this main trunk line has the ability to tie into the trunk line and no further construction of the public sewer system is necessary to allow them to do so. The town cannot assess more than $10,000 for their cost share of this infrastructure.
The following year, a sewer main (referred to as Special Benefit Facilities) is installed in an adjacent neighborhood that is part of the pumping district, and it is tied into the main trunk line. The cost of the sewer main is $1,500,000 and there are 100 property abutters. The cost share is $15,000 per property for the Special Benefit Facilities and $10,000 per property for the General Benefit Facilities that are allocated to the entire pumping district for a total assessment of $25,000. The assessment would be capped at $17,000.
The Sewer Assessment Ordinance described above would not cover the entire remaining funding needed to implement the CWMP. The remaining funding would need to come from the General Fund. The strategy for meeting this additional need will be developed once the Sewer Assessment Ordinance is finalized.
1 A recent study dated July 2019 conducted by professional appraisers for the Mt. Pleasant Township Municipal Authority in Hickory, PA came to this conclusion Report can be found at https://www.mpt-pa.com/sites/g/files/vyhlif4746/f/uploads/final-report-7-2-19-1.pdf
2 Analysis of Public Sewer Benefit for Properties located in the Sound View Beach Community Old Lyme, CT https://ctexaminer.com/wp- content/uploads/2020/06/SV-sewer-benifit-analysis.pdf
How will implementation of the plan be paid for?
The estimated cost of the 30-year plan is approximately $1.4 billion, including construction, borrowing costs and inflation. The Town has already made significant progress in meeting this funding need. Through legislative action at both the state and local levels the town has created over 50% of the estimated funding sources needed for this program. For the remaining resources needed, the Town has developed an equitable and affordable financing plan to fully implement the plan.
- The Town has created an existing dedicated revenue stream that will provide an estimated $600 million over the 30-year implementation timeline. This revenue stream consists primarily of proceeds from the hotel/motel room occupancy tax, short- term rental occupancy tax, local meals tax and a new excise tax of 2.75% that applies to all types of lodging on Cape Cod
- As new customers come on-line to the public sewer system revenue generated from user rate revenue is estimated to contribute over $200 million to the plan
- With existing spending and revenues accounted for, the remaining funding needed to implement the plan is approximately $600 million over thirty years. The Town is proposing a two-part strategy to meet this need:
- A Sewer Assessment Ordinance would create a sewer assessment that would apply only to properties that will be receiving sewer service. A cap on the sewer assessment of $17,000 per sewered property is recommended at the start of the program. This amount reflects only a portion of the actual cost of sewering the property. It is also less than the potential increase in property value an owner will benefit from by being connected to sewer service. Impacted property owners would have the option of paying the full amount upfront, or amortizing the assessment over 30 years, to be included on quarterly tax bills.
- The remaining funding would come from a a reduction in the annual operating budget or a debt exclusion override to authorize an increase in the property tax levy, or a combination of both. This portion of funding would apply to all property owners in Town.
Watch Town Council Finance Meeting HERE
View DRAFT Sewer Assessment Ordinance HERE
State Tax Credit For Sewer Connection Costs
As the Town constructs the buildout of the public sewer system property owners will be required to connect to the system. The connection cost is the responsibility of the property owner. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts offers a state tax credit to qualifying homeowners that may offset up to $6,000 of the connection cost.
Property owners qualify if:
- You are not a dependent of another taxpayer;
- Own residential property in Massachusetts;
- Occupy the residential property as your principal residence.
You’re allowed a credit for expenses you paid to:
- Repair or replace a failed cesspool or septic system to comply with state sewer system requirements;
- Connect to a municipal sewer system to follow a federal court order, administrative consent order, state court order, consent decree, or similar mandate.
Nonresidents do not qualify for this credit since the property must be an owner-occupied principal residence in Massachusetts. However, former Massachusetts residents who have to file Massachusetts nonresident tax returns may claim their unused prior year credit carryovers.
Part-year residents qualify for the full credit if the property is an owner-occupied principal residence in Massachusetts.
Qualified expenses you paid to bring a failed system into full compliance include:
- An upgraded system
- An alternative system
- A shared system
- A connector to a sewer system
Generally, only expenses for services or costs in connecting or hooking-up a sewer line from your property to the public sewer line qualify when calculating the credit. If you obtained a loan to finance a sewer line hook-up or connection, you can include it in calculating the Title V credit if you are required to or are allowed to connect to a town or city sewer system to cure a failed system.
If you voluntarily repair or replace a cesspool or septic tank, you cannot claim this credit since it is not considered a “failed” system under Title V. When calculating the credit, do not include betterments or assessments (improvements) related to constructing, extending, improving, or maintaining a new or existing sewer system and/or a water treatment system for a city or town either.
To qualify for the credit:
- The credit is 40% (.40) of the costs (not to exceed $15,000). The total amount of the credit cannot exceed $6,000.
- When calculating the credit, subtract any interest subsidies you received from Massachusetts.
- You can claim the credit for the year the repair or replacement work is completed.
More information on this state tax credit can be found on the State’s website here: https://www.mass.gov/service-details/view-residential-property-tax-credits
We recommend you consult with your tax preparer to see if you will qualify for this tax credit.
Frequently Asked Questions | FAQ's
SEWER ASSESSMENT ORDINANCE
A sewer assessment is a charge to a property owner for a specific benefit received (a public sewer).
It can be up to 100% of the property owner’s proportional cost share of the project’s cost. It can also be subsidized so that the charge is less than 100% of the proportional cost share or capped at a maximum dollar amount. Extending sewer service is necessary to meet federal clean water standards in our estuaries. All residents benefit when the Town’s water resources are protected.
Therefore, a shared cost approach is used to equitably fund the costs of building infrastructure to provide sewer service. Under the shared cost approach, a portion of the cost is paid by the sewer assessment charged only to new sewer users; another portion of the cost will be provided by state and federal grants (in the form of subsidized low interest loans and principal subsidies on loans); visitors to the Town will contribute by paying the local room occupancy taxes (including the Cape Cod and Islands Water Protection Fund Excise), and local meals tax; and the remaining portion of the cost will be paid out of the Town’s General Fund. This shared cost approach mirrors the method used to fund previous infrastructure projects.
The Sewer Assessment Ordinance is intended to charge property owners who will be connected to new sewer service, as outlined in the Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan, a fair share of the cost of the infrastructure needed to provide that service. Property owners connecting to sewer service will have the convenience and reliability of modern sewer service without the costs of maintaining and ultimately replacing a Title 5 septic system.
Properties connected to sewer service may experience a 6-13% increase in home value1, and an increase in the marketability of the property. In addition, roadways where sewer mains are installed will be repaved.
1 Based on recent studies performed for Mt. Pleasant Township, PA and Old Lyme, CT.
Studies are available on the Town’s website at: https://barnstablewaterresources.com/comprehensive-waste-water-management-plan/finance-funding/
Revised April 6, 2021
The Sewer Assessment is a charge that will be applied to the owners of properties that have one or more residential or commercial sewer units that are eligible to be newly connected to sewer service under the sewer expansion plan.
A residential sewer unit is defined as the number of dwelling units on a residential lot.
For example, a two (2) family dwelling unit on a residential lot will be assessed two (2) sewer assessments. A commercial sewer unit is defined by the amount of sewer flow on the property based on Title 5 of the State Environmental Code, 310 CMR 15.203, system sewage flow design criteria; whereby every 330 gallons per day of flow equals one (1) sewer unit. A property owner will be charged the same number of sewer assessments as there are residential or commercial sewer units on the property.
The Sewer Assessment does not apply to existing sewer customers in Town, or to any properties that are already eligible to connect to live sewer service, even if they are not yet connected as the sewer system is already available.
The Sewer Assessment represents the allocated cost of the sewer infrastructure that will be serving an owner’s residential or commercial property, as defined in #2 above.
Allocated cost is the sum of (a) 100% of the cost of general benefit facilities (i.e., main trunk lines, pumping stations) divided by the number of properties served by those facilities; and (b) 100% of the cost of special benefits facilities (i.e., adjacent sewer main tied into the main trunk line), divided by the number of properties served by those facilities. The combined cost allocated for the general and special benefit facilities will be capped at $17,000 at the beginning of the program and possibly adjusted for the inflation in construction cost annually thereafter.
The Sewer Assessment represents the lesser of (a) $17,000 or (b) the allocated cost of the general benefits infrastructure and special benefits infrastructure (see #3 above).
The Sewer Assessment does not include the cost of connecting a property to the sewer service located in the street. It also does not include the cost of decommissioning the current on-site system.
However the Sewer Assessment does cover the cost of the first grinder pump per sewer unit on the property, if needed to connect to the sewer system located in the street.
In addition to the Sewer Assessment, a property owner is responsible for the cost to connect their property to the public sewer system located in the street. Connection costs will vary based on property characteristics. The table below illustrates the potential combined Sewer Assessment and connection cost based on different assumptions in connection costs.
*Example A – 1⁄2 acre lot assuming septic system in the front = $4,200
*Example B – 1⁄2 acre lot assuming septic system in the front of the building, and below the roadway elevation, and will require installing a grinder pump (grinder pump provided by town) = $5,950 *Example C – 1⁄2 acre lot assuming septic system in the rear = $7,900
Once sewer service is connected, property owners will be charged a sewer service user fee on a quarterly basis, based on their water usage. The current typical residential sewer usage bill averages around $100 per quarter. If the property has irrigation, a property owner can install a deduct meter which will enable the property owner to realize a savings for water that does not enter the sanitary sewage system.
Finally, if the cost of expanding the public sewer system is not assessed 100% to the property owners scheduled to be connected to the system, a General Fund contribution will be required to fund a portion of the program. This results in a portion of a property owner’s property taxes being used to fund the program.
A property owner will be charged the Sewer Assessment when the sewer system serving their respective property becomes live. The Sewer Assessment will be issued at that time whether or not the property is immediately connected to the sewer system.
A property owner can opt to pay the Sewer Assessment all at once when due, or may opt to finance the Sewer Assessment and pay quarterly installments on their property tax bill over thirty years. In accordance with current policy, the Sewer Assessment under the thirty-year payback option would be amortized at an interest rate equivalent to 2% above the rate of borrowing, unless otherwise determined by the Town Council.
If the sewer assessment is added to future tax bills, a lien will be recorded on the property at the Registry of Deeds.
The lien for the sewer assessment may either be transferred to the new owner of the property or paid off at the time of transfer. If financing is involved with the property transfer, this will depend upon the financial institution.
The Board of Health has the authority to require property owners to connect to the public system when it becomes live. The Board of Health also has the authority to allow property owners to delay connecting depending upon their unique circumstances.
If you have a question or circumstance that you believe may necessitate a delay in connecting to sewer service, please call the Town of Barnstable Health Division at 508-862-4644 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
10. If I have recently installed a new Title 5 septic system, or will be doing so in the near term, will I still have to connect to sewer service and pay the Sewer Assessment?
All properties within the Phase 1 sewer area will be required to connect to sewer service and pay the sewer assessment.
The Board of Health and Department of Public Works are working closely with property owners to avoid situations where new Title 5 systems are installed in areas that will be receiving sewer service. If you have a question about your property, please call the Town of Barnstable Department of Public Works at 508-790-6400 or email email@example.com.
The de-commissioning and/or removal or filling of septic systems will be determined on a property- by-property basis.
This determination will be made at the time the property is being connected to the sewer system.
Connection costs may vary based on property characteristics. See Question #5 above.
13. Is there any payment assistance or abatement of either the Sewer Assessment or connection costs?
Any property owner may opt to pay the Sewer Assessment in quarterly installments and have it added to their property tax bill over thirty years. The property owner may also opt to have the town connect their property to sewer service in the road, in which case the costs of connection also may be paid in quarterly installments over thirty years. See Question #5 above. An abatement process will be available if a property owner believes they were incorrectly charged for a sewer assessment or if the sewer assessment charge is incorrect.
The Town is also exploring the possibility of allowing qualifying homeowners the option to defer their sewer assessment if they meet certain income and asset limits. This would carry an interest charge and the sewer assessment would be paid at the time of a transfer in ownership or refinancing of the property.
14. If I am already eligible for sewer service, but have not yet connected, will I have to pay a Sewer Assessment?
If you are already eligible to connect to live sewer service you will not be charged a Sewer Assessment, even if you have not yet connected to sewer service.
15. Why is the sewer assessment not based on the number of buildings on the lot? One building could have multiple dwelling units within it and may only require one sewer connection.
The sewer assessments are determined using either a fixed uniform rate or a rate based upon a uniform unit method.
A fixed uniform rate shall be based upon the estimated average cost of all the sewers therein, according to the frontage of such land on any way in which a sewer is constructed, or according to the area of such land within a fixed depth from such way, or according to both such frontage and area. This method is better utilized when building out undeveloped land.
A uniform unit method shall be based upon sewerage construction costs divided among the total number of existing and potential sewer units to be served, after having proportioned the cost of special and general benefit facilities. Each sewer unit shall be equal to a single-family residence. This approach allows the Town to establish a cap on sewer assessments at the beginning of the program resulting in more predictability as to the financial impact to property owners.
Case Studies - Special Benefit
UPDATE: August 20, 2020
View CWMP Update HERE
UPDATE: July 16, 2020
- MEPA Process continues
- Route 28 East Project
- Contract has been awarded to Weston & Sampson ($758,300).
- Design Efforts underway, kickoff meeting was held yesterday.
- Design anticipated to be completed in the spring of 2021. Targeting fall 2021 for start of construction.
- Project includes Phinney’s Lane pump station, force main to back to WPCF and gravity sewer on Route 28 from Strawberry Hill Road to Phinney’s Lane and on Phinneys Lane from Wequaquet Lane to Route 28.
- Survey Work
- Surveys have begun for the following projects:
- Long Pond Sewer Expansion (Anticipated Const. Start = FY25)
- Surveyor: Nitsch Engineering – $247,787
- Phinney’s Lane Sewer Expansion (Anticipated Const. Start = FY23)
- Project includes neighborhoods to west and east side of Phinney’s Lane
- Surveyor: SMC Dawood – $115,515
- Route 28 Centerville and Marstons Mills (Anticipated Const. Start = Centerville FY24, MM FY27)
- Route 28 from Phinney’s Lane to Route 149, including Marstons Mills Wastewater Treatment Plant (MMWWTP) conversion.
- Surveyor: SMC Dawood – $188,620
- Property owners w/in the project area will be notified via mail in the coming weeks regarding the need for survey crews to access their property.
- Anticipate completion of these survey efforts in the first quarter of CY2021
- DPW design team will use surveys to prepare preliminary designs in-house. Consultants will be retained for final design.
- Long Pond Sewer Expansion (Anticipated Const. Start = FY25)
- Continuing design and coordination with Vineyard Wind on the Strawberry Hill Road Project.
- Additional subsurface utility location was completed in June and design is being modified based upon the results of these findings.
- Targeting spring 2021 construction.
- Construction of sewer extension on Kidd’s Hill Road, Merchants Way and Business Drive has been completed (except for final paving). Funded by MassWorks Grant.
- Annual Estuary Monitoring Sampling is underway
- Continuing in-house preliminary design of Phase 1 projects.
- Surveys have begun for the following projects:
OTHER WASTEWATER PROJECTS OF NOTE (NON-SEWER EXPANSION)
- Rendezvous Lane Pump Station Replacement Project is currently out to bid.
- Construction anticipated starting this fall and be completed in the spring.
- Received the Solids Handling Upgrade Preliminary Design Report for $8M+ upgrade to the facility
- Project on State Revolving Loan Fund (SRF) Intended Use Plan — Appropriation request for construction anticipated in coming months.
- No decision by Joint Base Cape Cod yet. Last meeting in March. Drafting letter to try to move things along.
UPDATE: April 16, 2020
- MEPA Process continues
o Received ENF decision on April 3, 2020.
o Next Step – Prepare and submit Single EIR, anticipated this summer
- RFP’s received today for design of Route 28 East Project
o Project includes Phinney’s Lane pump station, force main to back to WPCF and gravity sewer on Route 28 from Strawberry Hill Road to Phinney’s Lane and on Phinney’s Lane from Wequaquet Lane to Route 28.
o Targeting Fall, 2021 construction.
- 3 RFP’s on the street for survey services to support design efforts of following projects:
o Phinney’s Lane Sewer Expansion (neighborhoods to west and east side of Phinney’s Lane)
o Long Pond Sewer Expansion
o Route 28 Centerville and Marstons Mills (from Phinney’s Lane to Route 149, including MMWWTP conversion).
- Continuing design and coordination with Vineyard Wind on the Strawberry Hill Road Project.
- Construction of sewer extension on Kidd’s Hill Road, Merchants Way and Business Drive scheduled for this spring (funded by MassWorks grant).
- Continued in-house preliminary design of Phase 1 projects.
- JBCC still awaiting decision on award of operations contract to T.O.B./Converge partnership. Met with Air Force in late March to answer questions about our joint proposal.
UPDATE: February 27, 2020 View DPW Presentation to Town Council HERE
UPDATE: January 24, 2020 View DPW Presentation to Town Council HERE
UPDATE: January 14, 2020 View Expanded Environmental Notification Form HERE
UPDATE: January 2020 View Final Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan HERE
UPDATE: January 2020 View CWMP Appendices HERE
UPDATE: December 19, 2019 View DPW Presentation to Town Council HERE
UPDATE: November 21, 2019 View DPW Presentation to Town Council HERE
UPDATE: October 3, 2019 The Town will host a series of four public information sessions over the next 30 days that will allow the public to hear about the plan, ask questions, and offer comments. Information sessions will be held at 6:30 pm in Barnstable County Complex Conference Room 10/15, Barnstable Town Hall, Hyannis 10/22, Marstons Mills Liberty Hall 10/28 & Osterville Village Library 10/21.
The Town of Barnstable Department of Public Works released the Draft Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan (CWMP). The Draft CWMP will guide wastewater collection, treatment, and disposal efforts in Barnstable for the next 30 years, with the primary goals of reducing nutrient enrichment of coastal estuaries and fresh water ponds as well as the protection of public water supplies. Secondary goals include supporting economic growth and providing solutions in areas where it has traditionally been difficult to site on-site systems such as areas with high groundwater and poor soils. The Draft CWMP relies on both traditional methods of addressing wastewater, in the form of centralized collection and treatment, but also invests heavily in alternative technologies in the short term to potentially minimize the need for centralized sewering in later phases of the plan.
The Town has been working since 2015 to develop a plan that meets the needs of the community as well as the requirements of the Cape Commission’s “208 Plan” that was released in 2017. The “208 Plan” outlines the region’s plan to meet the requirements of the Federal Clean Water Act.
UPDATE: June 20, 2019 View recent Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan (CWMP) Power Point Presentation HERE
UPDATE: January 3, 2019 View Power Point Presentation on Wastewater Efforts in Barnstable HERE
UPDATE: November 17, 2017 View details HERE outlining Intermunicipal Agreement between Barnstable, Mashpee and Sandwich to Clean Up Popponesset Bay.
UPDATE: August 17, 2017 View Final Wastewater Planning Presentation to Town Council HERE