Spring Lake sewer project bids exceed expectations

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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla.- A project to hook up Charlotte County homes to the sewer system is getting more expensive.

People living in the Spring Lake community must pay tens of thousands of dollars to switch from septic to sewer.

WINK News has learned that the bill to do the construction is way more than first expected.

Converting septic tanks to sewers is nothing new to Southwest Florida, several municipalities have gone through the process.

In Charlotte County, the bids are in for the East and West Spring Lake Wastewater Program and they came in much higher than originally expected.

“I would say the majority of the neighbors are very unhappy about it,” said Cynthia Roe who lives in the Spring Lake section of Port Charlotte.

“Oh yes. I totally understand that people are going to have different points of view,” countered Bruce Bullert, the engineer on the project for Charlotte County Utilities.

“$500 a year is difficult for some people and I didn’t like it added to my property taxes,” added Ron Roe, another Spring Lake resident.

Five hundred dollars a year for 20 years for a total of $10,000. That’s what the cost of converting 1,850 homes from septic to sewer was supposed to be. But late last week bids were officially received by the county and the cost was way more than originally estimated.

“$27 million versus $19 million,” explained Bullert. “We’re going to look at everything possible to decrease this cost but in the long run the $10,000 assessment is not going to be increased.”

But if the bids are eight million dollars higher, what are they going to do? “Determine if there’s some method or means that we can find a more economical way to do this,” countered Bullert.

“These are elderly residents and they are on fixed incomes,” said Scott Andricheck who formed a group called “Save Our Sewers.” “They can’t just magically come up with more money.”

Andricheck says there are two options. “Lay the main lines down and let people connect when they’re ready,” he said. Or, what he’d rather see is to kill the project completely.

“I think there are enough options at this time that I do not anticipate that this project will not go forward,” Bullert said.

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