Northborough Water and Sewer Commission to vote on rate increases
By Chris Kopacko, Contributing Writer
The commission held a public hearing on Aug. 27 to consider the proposed increases in water and sewer rates. Town officials are proposing a 20 percent increase in sewer rates, as well as a $10 base fee per household each quarter for water capacity. No one from the public attended the hearing to voice their opinion.
Town Administrator John Coderre, Department of Public Works Director Dan Nason and Chris Woodcock of Woodcock and Associates reiterated much of a presentation they made at a Board of Selectmen meeting last month, which cites a $30 million expansion of the Marlborough Westerly Wastewater Treatment Plant (MWWTP) as the cause for the sewer rate increases, as Northborough sends all of its wastewater to the plant.
Woodcock said he estimates that Northborough will owe about $800,000 to the MWWTP in FY14 due to the upgrade. While he proposes a 20 percent sewer rate increase next year to help pay for the added costs, he expects the rates will have to increase further in subsequent years as operating costs rise.
Speaking on the proposal for a $10 quarterly base fee on residential water bills, Woodcock said that since there’s an expense to make water available, there should be a charge associated with it.
“It’s not fair that you’re not paying for capacity that’s made available to you,” Woodcock said. “All the costs are still there.”
Woodcock cited a Massachusetts Water Resources Authority study which found that two thirds of communities in the commonwealth already have a base charge in their water bills. The proposal also includes a base fee of $35 per quarter for commercial properties and $45 per quarter for industrial areas. He also mentioned a base fee waiver would be made available for low-income households.
Coderre stressed that the proposed rate increases are only designed to cover the added costs.
“We do not make a profit,” he said. “This is simply covering the expenses, so the users are paying for what they receive.”
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