By Darryl Patteson
In the first of three meetings designed to get the board into different areas of DeWitt, the town board held its meeting in East Syracuse Monday night in front of 20 village residents.
Supervisor Ed Michalenko said the town is "defining a new era of inter-governmental cooperation and communication." The town board is also getting to meet with residents they may not otherwise see.
"We'd like to hear from village residents, as well." Michalenko said. "They get to witness a [town] board meeting and we get to listen to their questions and concerns."
After holding an open forum for village residents to ask questions, councilors raised two ongoing issues in the community: rapidly rising water rates and easements in Jamesville.
The Onondaga County Water Authority (OCWA) provides most of the water for the north side of DeWitt. The south side gets some water from OCWA and the rest from the city of Syracuse. That is why two major OCWA projects, a $16-million treatment facility upgrade and a $60-million project to close three open reservoirs in response to Sept. 11, will send the cost for water up, according to town engineer Mike Kolceski.
The money stays in the water district, so the increase can only be used on future water-related projects or to pay off bills.
"We're not doing it to raise money," Councilor Ken Andrews said. "We're doing it to run our water department."
After a lengthy discussion, the board voted 5-1 to increase prices 30 percent July 1. Councilor Vicki Baker was the lone dissenting vote, expressing interest in a plan that would raise prices in two installments. However, Kolceski added that a household using the minimum 30,000 gallons of water would only have to pay $22 more a year on the north side of DeWitt. Those using 100,000 gallons would see a $73 increase. On the south side it would be $14 and $47, respectively, since there is a six-year contract in place with the city of Syracuse for a fixed water price.