After years of dispute, Byram agrees to pay Sparta for water bill

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:14

    BYRAM-Byram Township will soon pay Sparta Township nearly $50,000 for fire hydrant services that span as far back as 2001. However, as of July 1, Byram residents will have to pay for hydrant service themselves. For years, the Sparta Water Utility has maintained water flow to fire hydrants located in everal Byram communities. In return, the utility has charged fees of approximately $20 a year for Byram homes within proximity of the hydrants. Prior to 2001, Byram Township had paid Sparta's hydrant charges. In 2001, the township stopped payment to Sparta claiming that it did not have a written contract with Sparta. Byram officials also contended that the township should not be forced to pay for services that benefited only a handful of town residents. While the municipalities argued their cases, many residents were left unsure as to whether or not they were supposed to pay for their hydrant service, so many never did. Recently, this lack of communication prompted Sparta Township officials to sent letters to Byram "hydrant homes" stating that a lien would be placed on their property if they did not pay past due fees. On June 21, the Byram Township Council agreed on spending municipal money to settle all of the accounts with both the Sparta Water Utility, and several other smaller hydrant services. The agreement will pay for all fees accumulated before July 1 this year. After that, residents within "hydrant homes" will be billed directly by their water provider and will be expected to pay for the service themselves. "This was a unique situation that a township would pay for fire hydrant services," said Byram Township Manager Greg Poff last week. As a new manager, he added that he did not know how or why Byram Township ever began paying for hydrant service years ago. "With this new agreement, Sparta gets the money they are entitled to and Byram stops paying for hydrant service," said Poff. "The issue is resolved." Byram residents who have already paid for hydrant services will receive a credit through their specific water utility. During the meeting, one Byram "hydrant home" resident questioned why she should have to pay the approximate $20 annual fee. Mayor Eskil Danielson explained that the hydrant saves homeowners more money in insurance each year. Other Byram homes without hydrant access face a higher risk for damages during a fire and larger insurance fees.