Average quarterly sewer bill projected to increase by $30

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Work to remove lead paint in Hudson’s town hall was set to begin on Aug. 16. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)
Hudson Town Hall
(Photo/Dakota Antelman)

HUDSON – The Select Board approved the water and sewer rates for the 2025 fiscal year at its June 17 meeting. With increases of 5 and 16%, the average resident will see a $7 increase in the quarterly water bill and a $30 increase in the quarterly sewer bill.

The intent of increasing the rates is to build capacity for the debt service payment due in fiscal 2026 for the phase two wastewater treatment plant upgrade and to cover cost for contract operations of the plant starting July 1.

The rates were set as effective as of May 15, 2024.

For the Water Enterprise Fund, an estimated total rate revenue of $5,138,952 would be generated, while for the Sewer Enterprise Fund, a total rate revenue of $6,331,098 would be gained for fiscal 2025.

The water rates range from $8.20 to $9.85 per 100 cubic feet for usages up to 1,400 cubic feet and at a limit of 15,000 cubic feet and above. The sewer rate is billed at $13.24 per 100 cubic feet of water usage.

Select Board member Diane Bemis thanked Department of Public Works Director Eric Ryder for “letting us know well in advance” of the possibility of the rate increases.

She said, “We knew that this was coming.”

Select Board Chair Scott Duplisea said with a topic like water and sewer rates, “there’s a lot of questions, as there should be.” He asked Ryder to explain the rates and how they were determined.

The enterprise accounts for water and sewer were approved at Town Meeting in November 2023, Ryder said. Any revenue has stayed within those enterprise accounts.

“What that does is it covers all of the operating expenses of a water treatment plant, staffing,” said Ryder.

He said the same mechanism applies for stormwater and wastewater treatment and related staffing. Payroll and benefits for staff are paid to the town out of the enterprise accounts. Those expenses originally came from the general fund in the budget, he said.

He said the wastewater treatment plant upgrades that address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were being paid for directly from the water and sewer rates.

Ryder said, “We anticipated that [16% increase] as well as we anticipated for 5% increase on water. Again, we have to look at capturing, covering our revenue, covering our expenses and then also looking at planning for future needs.”

The town has over 18 pump stations that are from 12 to 25 years old, he said.

In terms of future development in the town and the water capacity, Ryder said they would work with that person or people to provide water and sewer to the proposed project, and that would be part of the process.

Duplisea asked if the town was receiving any more settlement funds from any businesses for PFAS. In July 2021, the town reached a settlement with Precision Coating Co. Inc. for causing elevated levels of PFAS in drinking water at the time.

Executive Assistant Thomas Gregory said the town is three or four years into receiving $114,000 annually from Precision Coating. On the national level, Hudson is also a part of a multidistrict litigation that was brought against 3M and DuPont, and “we’re getting very close to a settlement” in a month or two.

Ryder said, “The court has given a ruling on that. It’s just we’ve submitted more documentation.”

He said there would be an initial disbursement and then others over 10 years as part of the ruling.

As for PFAS levels, Ryder said they are “at non-detect” levels, and quarterly testing is done on all town wells and filters. A non-detect result means that any PFAS contaminant is not present at a level high enough for detection.

In other business, the Select Board approved and authorized the signing of a contract with the Addiction Referral Center, which is located at 33 Main St. in Marlborough, in the amount of $20,000 for referral services for Hudson residents. Duplisea noted that the appropriation was voted on and approved at the 2024 Annual Town Meeting.

Gregory said, “This is also exempt from public procurement Chapter 30B. … A social service provider, healthcare provider is exempt from procurement.”

Duplisea asked why they went through a contract versus simply donating the funds, and Gregory said that “the contract protects the town’s interests” and ensures the money goes to the intended purpose.

Duplisea also congratulated the Hudson High School girls softball team for a great season that saw it get to the Division 3 finals before being defeated. He said to “make it all the way to that state final, as they have done numerous times” was a great accomplishment.

Select Board Vice Chair Judy Congdon congratulated senior Sam Collette for getting her 100th hit in the playoffs.

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