Yarmouth's Big Dig

Yarmouth sewer project will bankrupt families.

At an average annual cost of $1000 per household projected for those in the district, which includes increases in real estate tax, water rates and new sewer fees, the Town of Yarmouth cannot afford this sewer project.  Add to that amount hook fees of $10,000 per house, and the proposed sewer project for the Town of Yarmouth has the potential to bankrupt many of its residents. And that's just for construction.  Operating the sewer system will inevitably lead to ever higher sewer fees.

For the average house in Yarmouth, valued at $300,000, the tax (and sewer) bill will increase by $1000 a year, FOREVER. Any real estate agent will tell you that a house with a permanently higher tax bill is worth permanently less. The discounted present value of the tax, water and sewer increases will equal at least $10,000 and as much as $30,000 in home equity.  That's right, our houses will be worth an average of $20,000 LESS the day after we vote to build these sewers, than the day before.

No one is suing or has even threatened to sue the Town of Yarmouth if we do not build sewers now.  At worst, the EPA and the State may be sued for not enforcing the current environmental standards for estuaries and embayments. This may result in a regional plan to mitigate the nitrogen loading of our bays and rivers. This in turn will require some sewering in all of the towns of Barnstable County, but not all sewering in some of the towns.

Our drinking water is not threatened by our current septic systems. Our drinking water is drawn by our water districts' wells at levels 1000 feet below the surface and is not impacted by our septic systems that are flushing into the groundwater at 100 feet below the surface.  If they were, our Water Districts' commissioners would be up in arms, not to mention a host of other local and state health and environmental agencies.

Borrowing $55 million now (and eventually up to $275 million) at 0% interest, as opposed to 2% or 4% is not sufficient reason to move ahead on a project. Saving money on a massive project we can't afford the cost of in the first place is irrelevant. The current financing plan is little better than a sub-prime mortgage scheme.

There is a saying in banking; "If you can't afford the carrying costs, you can't afford the house." Many working families will be forced to move away from Yarmouth by the cost of sewering the town and their property.

There are better alternatives to this scheme that will not bankrupt us as residents and as a community.

The Cape Cod Commission outlined some of the alternatives at a series of meetings earlier this year that would reduce the cost of fixing the problem by more than a third. These involve smaller watershed based wastewater treatment districts, regional systems with our neighboring towns sharing the costs.  The Commission is our regional planning agency. They have already planned for a better and cheaper solution to the problem.

Join me at the Special Town Meeting in voting NO on a proposal that will change the Town of Yarmouth for good, but not for the better.  (Monday, September 12th, 6PM, Mattacheese Middle School, West Yarmouth.)

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