Vote On Proposed Findley Lake Sewer District Too Close To Call

Volunteer voting monitors at the polling station in Mina's Community Center. P-J photo by Damian Sebouhian

FINDLEY LAKE — With 77 absentee ballots yet to be collected and counted, the results of a special election on the proposed Findley Lake Sewer District remains too close to call.

With roughly 600 eligible voters, 340 went to the polls Friday at the Mina-Findley Lake Community Center. Of those 340, 182 voted against the establishing a sewer district, while residents 158 voted yes.

According to Town Supervisor Rebecca Brumagin, the absentee ballots will be counted by 10 a.m. next Friday. “The County Board of Elections will be certifying (the vote) then or soon after,” Brumagin said.

Only property owners within the proposed sewer district were eligible to vote. If approved, the sewer district project would cost an estimated $14,058,900, with an estimated $1,303 annual cost to a single family residential unit.

With a water district in place, the town of Mina would be eligible to obtain grant funding which, according to a report authored by Brumagin, would “significantly lower the cost of the project to property owners.”

The two most significant grants would come from the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2017, which could fund 25 percent of the project, and the Water Quality Improvement Projects, which could fund up to $5 million.

If the proposed sewer district is rejected by the voters, Findley Lake will be subject to mandatory inspections for Lakeshore onsite wastewater treatment systems as soon as next month.

“People will have to replace their septic systems if they are more than 30 years old or failing,” Brumagin said. “There are 275 homes and businesses within 250-feet of the lakeshore. Approximately 110 systems are un-permitted, and 42 are more than 30 years old. Therefore 152 of them, or 55 percent, are subject to the mandatory inspection program.”

Brumagin said the cost to replace septic systems that fail the inspections vary. She said one entire system on a large lot ranges from $4,000 to $12,000.

A system on a small lot that cannot achieve the offset from a neighbor could cost between $15,000 to $25,000, not including engineering costs.

Brumagin said Finley Lake is considered an “impaired lake” due to pollutants from agriculture and onsite septic systems.

An election like this is “very unusual,” Brumagin said. “We have tried our best to be very open and transparent about the process and to make it as easy as possible for people to be able to vote and tell us what they’d like to see.”