Water bills are going up again, roughly 5.7 percent based on the Department of Public Works' (DPW) rough estimates.
DPW Commissioner Andrew Pappistergion explained that despite water consumption decreasing about .05 percent, their budget had increased by about $1.6 million. Of that, about $1.1 million is an increased assessment from the Mass. Water Resource Authority (MWRA) and over $416,000 represents capital equipment and improvement costs.
While he says it is difficult to quantify an increase like that, because water rates are calculated on a lot of variables, the combined increase is about 5.7 percent. Using an estimated standard of "average" water use for a four-person family, this amounts to about a $75 increase.
This time last year, the for calculating . The base charge set by the property's meter size, and then a rate depending on whether they use more or less than 800 cubic feet of water.Block/Use Water Rate Sewer Rate Block 1 (0-700 cf) 1.60 3.60 Block 2 (800+ cf) 4.95 7.55 Irrigation (all cf) 5.00 N/A
For the first time, Pappistergion says, irrigation use will be charged higher than other uses. The Selectmen clarified that this does not refer to people watering their lawns, but to special meters that meet certain criteria. Unlike meters used for household consumption, irrigation meters are not charged for sewer use.
This 5.7 percent increase is bigger than the cost-of-living and raises," Selectman Nancy Daly observed. "I always feel a little bit like MWRA is runaway horse. How do they get to these numbers? Who can exert control over MWRA spending?"
Pappistergion, who also sits on the MWRA board, explained that about 65 percent of the MWRA's income goes to servicing debts from various federally-mandated projects. These projects are typically expensive and come with court-ordered deadlines, which add up to a "mountain of debt."
"Under the current board, we spend a lot of time looking at creative solutions," he explained.
In addition to the new water and sewer rates, the Board approved a 20 percent discout for seniors eligible for property tax exemptions.