The water and sewer hookup bill for New Windsor Middle School has gone down, but it's still in the six-figure range.
Before New Windsor will approve the start of construction, Mayor Jack A. Gullo wants $183,600 in hookup fees for the new school that will replace the building on Green Valley Road.
The school system will have to go to county government for extra money, said Lester Surber, supervisor of school facilities and planning.
Mayor Gullo said he presented school officials yesterday with a figure reduced from the $228,000 he originally requested.
Until the county school system pays the fee, he said, he won't sign off as the provider of sewer and water service. His signature as the head of the water utility is the last step in completing the building permit. Construction is scheduled to begin by the middle of next month.
"We think there's some room for improvement, but if that is the bottom line, so be it," Dr. Surber said.
He said not only is there no money in the $7 million construction budget for the unexpectedly high hookup fee, but that county government already cut $117,000 from the project this year.
This last-minute glitch could have been avoided, Dr. Surber said, if the town and schools had been communicating directly since the start on the project.
Instead, he said, the county government had wanted to be the liaison between school and town.
Mayor Gullo, who was elected in May, said county officials should have known there would be a higher water fee, and that school officials should have asked more questions.
The mayor originally asked for the $228,000 based on a formula that equated the new school to 57 new homes. Dr. Surber asked the mayor to revise the formula by taking into consideration that the new school will be a replacement for the school already using town water.
But neither school nor town can get around state regulations that the town be able to provide 25 gallons of water a day per student.
The current school uses only six gallons a day per student, Mayor Gullo said. He said he gave the school "credit" for the 3,000 gallons a day it uses for its 500 students.
But between the expected additional 125 students and the state regulations, Mayor Gullo figures the town will have to be prepared to provide another 12,625 gallons a day, even if the school never uses it.
To provide that extra flow for the school and other new buildings in town, he said, the town needs to spend $1 million on improvements to the water pumping station and a new well source.