HUDSON – Increased water and sewer rates are on the horizon for Hudson residents following a vote by the Select Board earlier this month.
Meeting on June 6, Select Board members approved an 18% water rate increase and an 11% sewer rate increase.
This is driven, according to Executive Assistant Thomas Gregory, by borrowing to fund a pair of town capital projects.
Select Board Chair Scott Duplisea said it was “unfortunate” that the town had to raise its rates. “We have to take care of our water,” he continued.
Debt costs contribute to rate increases
The two town projects driving the increase, Gregory said, involve upgrades to PFAS treatment infrastructure at Hudson’s Chestnut Street Water Filtration Plant, as well as the second phase of wastewater treatment plant upgrades.
Costs include borrowing $5.6 million from the state Drinking Water Revolving Fund for the PFAS project and $14.7 million from the state Clean Water Revolving Fund for the wastewater upgrade project.
Both projects are also being funded by the State Revolving Fund, with the PFAS project receiving a 0 percent interest rate and the wastewater upgrade project receiving a 2.5 percent interest rate, according to Hudson Director of Public Works Eric Ryder.
Ryder added that a portion of the state’s American Rescue Plan Act allocation is also being used to support this project.
Executive Assistant discusses options
Speaking at the Select Board’s June 6 meeting, Gregory noted that the town’s rates are calculated to generate a year-end surplus. The Select Board, he said, could then isolate the surplus from the town’s free cash. Speaking to the Community Advocate, Gregory said that this would allow the town to specifically use surplus water and sewer dollars to reduce future rate increases, among other things. He said that these funds would not be available until Fiscal Year 2024, however.
Gregory said that he hopes that the Select Board will give serious consideration to this option of isolating surplus water and sewer funds.
“That will completely segregate these two operations from the general fund,” Gregory said.
DPW delays water meter project
At the Select Board’s meeting, Select Board member Shawn Sadowski separately asked about the town’s progress in acquiring new water meters.
An article allowing the town to appropriate $1.5 million to purchase and install these replacement water meters previously passed at town meeting in November of 2020.
Ryder said that DPW had held off on that, though, as a result of a shortage of microchips, which the meters require.
“I didn’t want to put a project out and not be able to get the materials, or get them in at piecemeal,” Ryder said.
Rates could increase further
Facing rate increases already this month, town customers may see still more increases in the coming months.
Gregory addressed this following last week’s Select Board meeting, explaining that a rebidding process related to the town’s wastewater treatment plant project could impact water and sewer rates.
“It likely will create a need to raise the rates additionally,” Gregory said.
He added that the town would have to settle a question of whether to institute a mid-year rate increase or to delay the rate hike to next year.
Also speaking following the Select Board meeting, Ryder said that the question of whether the rebidding would cause further water rate increases would depend on a number of factors in how the project is paid for.