Concrete passes 2019 budget
CONCRETE — The Concrete Town Council recently passed a $2.3 million 2019 budget for the town that includes an increase in sewer rates, two road projects and a new employee.
A $500,000 grant received Tuesday from the state Department of Commerce for a wastewater treatment plant upgrade project will bring the budget to about $2.8 million.
Concrete Mayor Jason Miller said the project is centered on replacing screens that filter material out of incoming water.
The town has long had wastewater treatment issues.
After relying for decades on a wastewater pond called a lagoon, the town built a wastewater treatment plant in 2008. Equipment within the plant has worn more quickly than anticipated and the wastewater treatment plant has on occasion become overwhelmed by rainwater.
Miller said the town is looking forward to upgrading the wastewater treatment plant to avoid recurring problems.
The Town Council also passed as part of the budget a $5 per month increase in sewer rates, along with a program to prevent low-income residents from being impacted by that increase.
“This is a pretty big deal,” Miller said. “Our citizens have been getting crushed by the fact that we have to ... have our rates set at a specific point.”
He said the town remains about $3 million in debt for construction of the wastewater treatment plant and has to raise rates in order to chip away at that balance and keep the plant running.
In 2018, the town increased sewer rates incrementally, resulting in a total of $16 per month by the end of the year. Miller said as a result of that increase, the town has seen an increase in late payments.
To avoid further impacting low-income residents, the town will in 2019 use profits from selling water to Niagara Bottling to offset the $5 increase for those who qualify. Residents can apply for the new program at Town Hall.
The 2019 budget also includes two residential street projects and a new Public Works employee in preparation for the retirement of Public Works Assistant Director Rich Phillips.
Miller said he is excited that the town received grant funding to repave and add sidewalks on Cedar and South Rietze streets.
Cedar and South Rietze streets are in a residential area between Highway 20 and the Concrete schools. Miller said both sections of road are in disrepair.
“It’s huge from the town’s perspective,” he said. “The town has been going for funding for that stretch of Cedar Street for more than a decade.”