Angelina Co. residents discuss reasoning behind petitions against proposed sewage line

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Some Angelina County residents are fighting against a proposed sewer line along Farm-to-Market 2251 saying the proposed dollar amount is a little steep for their tastes.

"We've been through this thing one time and at that time it cost quite a bit of money to get it done then and it's going to cost lots more this time," said Elroy Edwards, a Cedar Grove resident. "People just don't have that kind of money. That's one of the big problems with it because most of us, well some of us, are pretty old."

The proposed sewage line system is a development of a 2005 petition to install first-time sewer lines to every current water customer with the Angelina County Fresh Water Supply District No.1. Also, the plan is to install first-time sewer to out-of-district customers along the collection system route.

Those neighborhoods affected will be on Jackson Road, Mount Pleasant Road, County Barn Road, as well as many others in the Cedar Grove and Redland Estates areas off FM 2251.

The estimated total is expected to cost $4, 537,000 and through a 2014 Clean Water State Revolving Fund, 70 percent of the $1.6 million loan will be under a loan forgiveness grant for disadvantaged communities with up to a 30-year repayment term.

However, Edwards, 72, says he is one of the many Cedar Grove residents who are under the impression they will have to pay an additional $32.50 on top of their original payment for sewage.

"It's a tough pill to swallow where we've been through this thing and nobody helps us out. Now, these people over here are trying to get it over there, but they need help," Edwards said.

On Tuesday, nearly 50 Cedar Grove residents submitted two petitions to the Angelina Co. Fresh Water Supply No.1 board of supervisors to bring the sewer system to a community vote and allow an election for a new board of supervisors.

Redland Estates resident A.J. Hunt, 65, says he thinks voting is the best action.

"No one has been told how much the $1.6 million for the new sewer loan will inflate your bill and a lot of people are frustrated here," Hunt said. "The $1.6 million loan is to be financed for 30 years and 30 years plus our age, most of us will be deceased. We did the petition so that we call in a vote and felt like that's a fair way for the people who want the sewer loan to voice their opinion and for people who don't want to voice theirs."

However, Kelley Holcomb, the general manger of the Angelina & Neches River Authority says he does not understand why existing sewage customers are under the impression they have to pay more than what they are already paying.

"I have no idea what the confusion is, but there's obviously some confusion as to somehow or the other the existing sewer customers that are paying this $48 a month are paying an additional $32 a month. I have no idea where that came from. That is not the case," Holcomb said.

He says the fund loan/loan forgiveness program will have two phases; one, an engineering phase that will cost about $600,000. Under this phase, new customers will be expected to pay a fee of $32.50 a month.

"It's only the customer who will be, who are, the quote-on-quote first-time sewer customers; the ones who are not on the sewer system as of today. [The] ones that will be receiving the system as part of this upgrade," Holcomb said.

He says the 70 percent of it is loan forgiveness, which means the federal and state government are contributing about $180,000. He says the second phase is the construction process and he is not sure what that total cost will be.

Right now, the planning and design is estimated at a $674,013 with a $205,000 loan and a $469,013 loan forgiveness. The construction is estimated right now with the $4,537,000 and a $1,631,250 loan and a $3,176,250 loan forgiveness.

Yet, not all residents are upset about the proposed plans. Catherine Proutt,60, has been living in Cedar Grove for over 38 years and says while she has her own sewage system line already, she doesn't mind the new plans.

"I have no problem with it, but I can't speak on other people's income or what they have, but as far as myself, I have no problem with it," Proutt said.

Holcomb says there will be a meeting on Monday and he urges everyone to come and voice their opinions, especially those who signed the petitions. He says they will hopefully be able to clear the air and address the confusion among district residents.

The meeting time and place is still yet to be determined.

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