Purchase this PhotoBy Judi Currie
Posted Jul. 18, 2016 at 3:52 PM
Updated Jul 18, 2016 at 4:29 PM
SOMERSWORTH — Two organizations looking to help those in need have been given a helping hand from the city.
The Somersworth Finance Committee approved sewer fee abatement requests from Bonfire Recovery Services and Seeds of Faith; reducing their impact fees by about $90,000.
According to Finance Director Scott Smith, the city charges a fee of $1,800/bedroom or equivalent (which is 75 gallons per day) for the sewer connection fees.
Smith said for new construction it is a pretty straightforward calculation but when there is a change to an existing business is can be more complex.
A new business needs to pay if they change from, say an office to restaurant, where there is more impact on the sewer; however, there are no fees or refunds for restaurant to office, Smith said.
For Bonfire Recovery Services their fee would be $87,000; while the estimate for Seeds of Faith was $16,200.
Both organizations came before the Somersworth City Council on June 20 to make the requests; the council opted to refer the matter to the Finance Committee, which met on June 30.
Bonfire Recovery Services is planning to open a men’s sober living facility at 472 High St. They approached the city asking for a fee calculated on the usage at their Dover facility — 50 gallons per day per person.
According to Smith, Bonfire received a credit for the office unit that was there and after crunching the numbers, the fee would be $12,600 based on the estimated actual use for the number of occupants. The Finance Committee approved reducing the fee from $87,000 to $12,600.
Andrew West, Bonfire co-founder, said they appreciate the reduction in the fee.
“The mayor, city council, city manager, finance department, and the drug task force have been wonderful,” West said. “The city of Somersworth has sent a strong signal they want Bonfire and we couldn’t be happier.”
Seeds of Faith, which will operate a transitional housing program called Lydia’s House of Hope at 21 Grand St., was asking for a full abatement.
Smith said the Seeds of Faith transitional housing project has been approved for 25 beds. If they apply a credit for the prior approval of 29 beds, the fee would be $0.
The Finance Committee approved a motion for the full abatement for Seeds of Faith.
Theresa Tozier, founder and executive director of Seeds of Faith, said the abatement will have a big impact.
“Seeds of Faith appreciates the kind consideration that was obtained from the city of Somersworth of a recent abatement, which produced a possible financial hardship,” Tozier said. “The money will now be better used for the advancement of our mission’s program, Lydia’s House of Hope”
Councilors discussed over the course of several meetings whether the city uses a fair formula or needs to look into how the fees are calculated and consider changing the procedure.
City Manager Belmore said based on the feedback, the ordinance needs to be made clear. He said the city needs to be perceived as being business friendly.