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Burgin Sewer Nears Completion

Burgin property owners who have failed to connect to the city’s sanitary sewer system will soon be getting notices from the Mercer County Sanitation District.

The District will begin sending out the letters at the end of October, said Executive Director Mike Sanford. Those who fail to comply could face substantial penalties, including fines and possible jail time.

At the end of the month, the District will also start mailing notices to the final group of property owners informing them they need to connect to the system. While a lot of property owners have had their tap-on fees waived, half of the first group, around 50 property owners, have not complied. Sanford said around 20 people are waiting on plumbing contractors.

He said about 100 people have connected to the system so far. The District’s attorney, Larry Catlett, said he has been “inundated” with requests for waivers to the tap-on fees.

One of the biggest issues concerning the sewer system is the cost. The minimum fee is $40 for 2,000 gallons. Burgin City Councilman Sindicat “Sid” Dunn has repeatedly asked the District to lower the rates, which were based on the repayment of the $9.2 million funding package to the U.S. Department for Housing and Urban Development,  USDA Rural Development and the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration.

After consideration, the District has decided to begin a sewer rate survey. The survey will start at the end of October and last through June 2018. Sanford noted that the operations of the District have changed dramatically since 2009 and that there are more suitable rate structure options available.

Any potential reduction in the minimum rate must be approved by the USDA, the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority and the Mercer County Fiscal Court.

While two of the three contractors have either finished work on the project or are in process of cleaning up, Todd Johnson Contracting of Danville, who were awarded the $3.5 million contract to build a 25,000-foot gravity sewer main on South Main Street, said they need more time and more money. The contractor says work has been hampered by the need to dig through rock, but the District says the contractor started 70 days late and did not do their homework before starting construction.

“They created the problem by not showing up on time and not properly evaluating the job,” Catlett said. 

The contractor’s claim for more time was denied. They have 30 days to respond. The District has asked Catlett to draft a formal statement laying out their position. Catlett advised the District to meet with the contractor to discuss the dispute. He also stressed the importance of creating a paper trail, basically laying out the District’s argument if the case goes to court.

“It won’t be fun but I think we can prevail,” Catlett said.

The Burgin sewer system is the biggest project the District has ever undertaken, but it’s not the only one.

To learn more, check out this week’s issue of The Harrodsburg Herald.

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