A sewer expansion seen by Ashland officials as critical to accommodating additional growth was winning overwhelming support.
With 61.54 percent of votes counted countywide, the Ashland measure held a commanding 807-to-294 vote advantage.
“I’m obviously glad it’s passing,” City Administrator Ken Eftink said of the early returns. “We did a lot of work and research and determined this was the most economical way to pay for wastewater enhancement and water improvement.”
The $3 million bond issue includes $1 million to expand the city’s wastewater lagoon system and $2 million to drill a new well and build a 750,000-gallon water tower.
Ashland is using almost 80 percent of its sewage treatment capacity, and according to growth estimates, will reach capacity in about three years. Before the election, Eftink said failure of the measure might force the city to put a moratorium on new building permits.
The ballot measure will finance an increase in sewage treatment capacity to 490,000 gallons from 290,000 gallons per day — enough to support an additional 567 households or about 1,500 more people. The city now generates an average of 230,000 gallons of wastewater per day.
To pay for the bonds, the average monthly water and sewer bill for Ashland residents will increase from $42.75 to $50.80.
In September, the city increased its impact fees — the amount it charges for new users to connect to the wastewater system.
Eftink said work on the sewer expansion could start as early as next year and be finished by 2008.
Plans for the new water tower and well to be built on two acres the city owns near the elementary school are expected to go into effect in 2008 with the construction taking about six months.
“This vote indicates the community wants to grow with quality services,” Eftink said. “It shows they’re concerned with the environment and want to have quality water to their homes and businesses.”