The community had its say today, and the yeses eked out a win, bringing the Bridgeport Sewer District one step closer to reality. Unofficial results show residents voted -- in person or by absentee ballot -- 313 to 276 in favor of the project, with 35 affidavit ballots left to be verified and counted.
Affidavits were provided to those who showed up at the polling place without verification of eligibility to vote.
The eligibility will be determined when elections inspectors meet Monday at Sullivan Town Hall to examine deeds and other documentation to attempt to determine the validity of those ballots.
When the machines were opened, just eight votes separated the ayes from the nays, 253 to 245. Absentee ballots, however, were in favor of sewers by nearly two to one, with 59 voting in favor of the project and 31 against it.
The 37-vote lead won't be changed by the results of the affidavits. Elections inspectors examined those documents, as well, and found 17 in favor of sewers and 18 against. If all the affidavits in favor of the project were to be thrown out and the 18 against it counted, the vote still would be 19 more votes in favor of sewers.
"Now the work really begins," said Sullivan Supervisor John M. Becker. On April 10, we'll be in front of the Environmental Facilities Corporation board to support our application for a $4 million grant for this project, and our representatives have been in touch with Dave Miller of the USDA Rural Development Agency, and there may be an additional $500,000 available there, which would bring their contribution up to $1 million."
Becker said that potential $5 million would come off the already committed no-interest loan of $14 million to cover project costs, lowering costs to residents.
"This is a good thing for Bridgeport," Becker said. "Now the community can grow, something we will allow responsibly. Assessed value will go up, Aldi [grocery story] wants to come in, and a lot of businesses in the hamlet that want to expand will now be able to do so. We're going to see a thriving Bridgeport now."