Letter to the editor: Corrections regarding water presentation article at town meeting

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To the Editor:

In reporting on Shrewsbury’s recent Special Town Meeting (“Special Town Meeting votes down two petition-generated articles,” Oct. 4, 2016) the Community Advocate made several statements about my water rate article that were wrong. 1) I did not say that ‘commercial water users should pay more than residential users’ for the same consumption. I did say that commercial rates, which are currently much lower than residential rates, should be increased faster than future residential rate increases so as to make the residential and commercial rates more equitable. 2) I did not say that ‘water rates now in use had been set in 2007’ (current rates went into effect January 1, 2016). I did say that since 2007 residential consumption had been below the state guideline of 65 gallons/day, so from that year on, commercial rates should have been increased faster than residential rates in order to bring them closer together, thus making rates more equitable. 3) In connection with this article, I did not say that the selectmen’s reports were inadequate regarding toxins in the water. I did say that there had been substantial errors in reported residential water consumption and unaccounted water for several years. And I merely said that the town’s Manganese/dirty water problem this summer was probably exacerbated by the fact that one third of all water pumped was being lost. And by the way, Manganese is not considered a toxin even at Shrewsbury’s current high levels.

The most serious misstatement was claiming that the Town Manager had refuted my allegations. The statements in my presentation are well-documented facts, not allegations – and he did not refute them. The four slides he presented ignored my key points, including 1) that Shrewsbury was probably the only town in Massachusetts whose residential rates were so much higher than its commercial rates; and 2) that the vast majority of other towns have equal rates for their residential and commercial customers, unlike Shrewsbury.

He also presented a slide claiming that my proposal would result in residents paying about $500,000 more than currently, but that is not true.

This article would benefit the town. After all, treating people fairly is always a positive good.

John Lukach
Shrewsbury