Published in The East Hampton Star, October 16, 2017
Sixty dollars ($60) a month for thirty years: that adds up to $21,600!
That’s what it will cost those of us who have houses with traditional septic systems (such as septic tanks or cesspools) if the East Hampton GOP candidates for Town Board get to enact their septic upgrade plan! Mr. Giardina, one of the GOP candidates and the architect of the GOP plan, finally fessed up to the cost homeowners would bear on Thursday night.
You would think this would be optional, right? Wrong; using a provision of the Town code that calls for septic inspections every three years, Mr. Giardina proposes to establish a “Septic Squad” responsible for identifying every offending septic system, which would then be enrolled in a mandatory upgrade program. If a homeowner can’t pony up the money, too bad: the Town can do the upgrade at your expense or your Certificate of Occupancy would be invalidated – which means you couldn’t sell your home unless the upgrade is done.
Heavy handed? You bet!
What’s even worse is that his plan demonstrates his lack of experience. In his Thursday remarks, Mr. Giardina promised that the money for your upgrade would come from the State’s $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act, and he chided the Town Board for looking a gift horse in the mouth. But it is Mr. Giardina who has not done his homework. The CWIA allocates only $75 million statewide for residential septic upgrades (and any one loan is capped at $10,000). It’s a pipedream to think East Hampton would get more than a tiny fraction of that.
Similarly wrongheaded, his original plan (on the EH GOP website) proposes that homeowners would be eligible for low cost loans from either the New York State Environmental Facilities’ Corporation or the US EPA Clean Water Act State Revolving Fund. However, it appears that private residential septic projects are not eligible for funding under either of these programs: funding is reserved for municipal programs. So, either Mr. Giardina doesn’t know what he is talking about or he is just trying to deceive us voters. He proudly touts that he was with the EPA for 30 years, so you make the call. Even if he were right, the full cost of an upgrade would be foisted on homeowners. Either way, the GOP’s naïveté or its disregard for homeowners’ finances is a disqualifier.
Our Town Board has already instituted a revolutionary septic upgrade program using the portion of CPF funds approved last November for improving water quality to fund homeowners’ upgrades. Their approach promises much more money for the project than the GOP’s plan.
Now for the best news — unlike the GOP plan, the anticipated cost to eligible residential homeowners for the upgrade will be: Nothing, subject to a $16,000 cap.
Peter Van Scoyoc and Kathee Burke-Gonzalez have thus demonstrated a true concern for both the environment and the economics of Town homeowners. Mr. Bragman also has voiced his support for the Town’s plan. Not only does this mean they deserve your vote, but it will not cost you $21,600.