A new plan from the Brookline would change the amount of money paid annually for water and sewer services, increasing for some customers. As water use has decreased, so too has the revenue. DPW Commissioner Andrew Pappistergion presented a plan to combat this using a rate increase and a base charge, and adding a fire Service Charge, at last night's Selectmen's Meeting.
Pappistergion explained the increases, "This is designed to incur larger revenue from larger users. Historically they were the people–I hesitate to use the phrase–not paying their fair share of the load."
The cost increases will range depending on the size of a property's water meter. The majority of places in Brookline use a 5/8-inch meter. Meters range from 5/8 or 3/4-inches all the way up to 4-inches. The higher meter sizes will see a significantly higher base charge, but there are also considerably fewer of them. While nearly 6000 users have the 5/8-inch meter, only 24 use a 4-inch size.
Pappistergion pointed out that the base charges will only cover about 31% of the fixed operating and debt costs. This is with the typical base charge of $200 for most residential customers. To recover 100% of fixed operating and debt costs, the same base charge would have to be $640. All of these costs are paid quarterly.
To the majority of users (68% with the 5/8 meter), the estimated average decrease will be about $30 per year. The slightly larger 3/4-inch meters may see about $7 added onto their annual bill. The 41 users with a 3-inch meter are estimated to see an extra $500 on their bill.
Currently, fire irrigation systems, like fire sprinklers, are not metered. Pappistergion says the DPW is not allowed to monitor those. Meaning that, after installation, there are no additional costs for those systems.
"Even if the fire irrigation system works correctly, and they used a million gallons of water to fight a fire within the building, there's no charge from the town. Ever." Pappistergion explained, " So it was time to take a look at fire service customers carrying their fair share."
The proposed plan is to add a Fire service capacity charge to properties with fire services installed, which would be based on the size of that fire service. Possibly netting $225,000.
Public buildings could also pull in about $400,000 for the DPW. Public uses would also be billed, using the same structure as residential and commercial properties. Pappistergion noted that has already been put into the 2012 budget
The plans are not yet being put into place, and public input will be sought before any action will be taken.
"We think it deserves a public hearing," Pappistergion added.
The public hearing will be on the agenda two weeks from tonight.