New sewer rates proposed for Shrewsbury residents

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By Joan Goodchild Community Reporter

Shrewsbury – At its Feb. 28 meeting, the Board of Selectmen heard from members of the Board of Sewer Commissioners regarding the issue of sewer rate increases expected to go into effect April 1. Water and sewer rates will need to be increased due to a predicted deficit for the Sewer Department for the next fiscal year, according to Town Manager Daniel Morgado.

“What it boils down to is we have need for a $2 million increase in the current revenue stream of the Sewer Department,” said Morgado, who noted the money was needed to keep pace with increases at the Westborough Wastewater Treatment Facility, which also serves Shrewsbury, Westborough and Hopkinton. The facility is undergoing a $54 million upgrade to comply with new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards. Morgado said Shrewsbury's sewer infrastructure also needs upgrades.

Three rate-increase scenarios were presented. The first would change the current residential and condominium rate. It stands now at $4.20 per 1,000 gallons, with a quarterly base charge of $30. The proposal would increase the base charge to $40 and the rate to $6.30 per 1,000 gallons. The other two proposals would maintain the quarterly base charge but increase the rate to $7 per 1,000 gallons or $7.50 per $1,000 gallons. Commercial-building owners and apartment-building owners would see their rates increase from $5.40 to $8.70 per 1,000 gallons under proposal one and $9 or $9.30 for proposals two and three.

The Sewer Commission plans to hold a public hearing March 14 at the Town Hall on the proposals.

Morgado also updated the board about the USDA's Asian Longhorn Beetle Eradication program, which is ongoing in parts of Shrewsbury. The Asian Longhorn Beetle, an insect that bores into and kills a variety of tree species, was first spotted in Worcester several years ago and has since spread to neighboring towns. Approximately 18 trees in Shrewsbury, all located in the Route 70 area approximate to the town's boundary with Worcester and Boylston, were removed last year after they were deemed at risk or infested.

The selectmen also discussed the progress of the planned replacement of the aging World War Memorial that is located in front of the Beal School. Mindy McKenzie Hebert, chair of the Shrewsbury Republican Town Committee, told the board that a recent fund-raising event garnered about $2,000 for the Memorial fund. The budget for the project is $120,000. So far approximately $50,000 has been collected through donations and fund-raising efforts at Shrewsbury schools, to replace the original monument, which was built in 1926.

The Board heard from Town Engineer Jack Perreault regarding possible changes to Plainfield Avenue, where residents have requested the street be designated a no parking zone. Perreault said investigation and observing done by the department in the area concluded it would be a good idea to change the area to a no parking zone. The matter was continued to the Board's next meeting on March 7.