Water woes have prompted 39 homes and the North Davis Sewer District Plant to petition to annex into the city and connect to its water system.
The issue could determine Syracuse's future western boundary as early as next month.Desperate for water, the homeowners in unincorporated Davis County are unhappy about estimates of municipal water costs provided at a March 12 public hearing.
According to Syracuse Mayor DeLore Thurgood, the city would have to add four miles of additional waterlines to satisfy the water needs of the 1,500-acre unincorporated area. He said the estimated cost is $400,000, and the project would take 90 days to complete.
With homeowners picking up 30 percent of that cost, the total per individual hookup is $3,000 each - initially $1,075 and then $100 per year for 20 years.
Guy Beazer, a spokesman for the homeowners, said the group originally filed for annexation with the city last October. Some of their wells dried up last summer, and though most of the wells improved in the winter, one of them has already gone dry again - boding ill for well-water prospects this summer.
"We've got to have water," Beazer said, "We're disappointed in Syracuse City."
Beazer said the Hooper Water Improvement District has offered residents cheaper ($1,300 per house) and faster hookups (on line within six weeks).
According to Beazer, the Hooper Water District already has a line in place on 4000 West, making it geographically closer to the area than Syracuse is.
Beazer said the group has given the city an April 1 deadline to make a decision. The group will meet that night to vote for Syracuse or Hooper water connection.
Although Thurgood said the area, located west of the current city boundaries and east of the sewer plant, is part of the city's annexation declaration, it's simply not economical to annex because of the low density and its small projection for increased growth in the near future.
Beazer stressed that if residents hook up to the Hooper system, most are likely to vote against any future annexation plans into Syracuse, making the water issue the deciding factor on Syracuse's future western boundary.
Thurgood said he feels sorry for the landowners but doesn't think it's fair for the current residents to pay for any of the hookup costs of the unincorporated area. At present, Syracuse provides garbage pickup and fire protection to the area, under contract from the county.
However, the county plows and maintains the unincorporated area's roads. That would be an added burden on Syracuse, should the area be annexed.
"We don't view them as second-class citizens, despite what they may think," Thurgood said, adding that county homeowners attend Syracuse schools and churches and probably even shop at the same businesses residents do.
Syracuse is planning to upgrade its current water system with a proposed $1.8 million project, contingent on anticipated funding from state legislature's April 17 special session. Thurgood said this upgrade alone would boost residents' water bills by about $6 a month. He plans to continue the public hearing on the incorporation proposal sometime after April 17.
The project includes a 2 million-gallon storage tank, a new booster pump and backup electric power generators.
Thurgood said money for the project, that could be done jointly with the potential hookups for the unincorporated area, would probably not be available until July and so it doubtful that even under the best of circumstances that Syracuse could help solve the water woes of the unincorporated area this summer.