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Milltown approves second sewer rate hike

Adjustment needed to secure funding for new treatment project
Milltown approves second sewer rate hike Milltown approves second sewer rate hike
By Chris Adams, Contributing Writer

Having just voted in July to increase sewer rates for the first time in 14 years in part to help fund the town’s new wastewater treatment plant, the Milltown Town Council unanimously passed a second rate increase at its Sept. 14 meeting.

The new rate schedule — based on water meter size — is as follows: 5/8 inch, $40.03; 1 inch, $57.33; 1-1/2 inch, $91.74; and 2 inch, $349.87. The treatment charge per 1,000 gallons is $8.90.

The increase will go into effect Dec. 1.

The rate schedule adopted in July was 5/8 inch, $34.51; 1 inch, $49.42; 1-1/2 inch, $79.09; and 2 inch, $301.61, with a treatment charge per 1,000 gallons of $7.67.

It replaced the schedule adopted on May 6, 2006: 5/8 inch, $24.30; 1 inch, $34.80; 1-1/2 inch, $55.70; and 2 inch, $212.40. The treatment charge per 1,000 gallons was $5.40.

As was the case with the adjustment adopted in July, the connection charge of the new rate schedule, regardless of meter size, remains at actual cost but not less than $500.

Most residences have a 5/8-inch water meter.

At the council’s request, Doug Baldessari of Baker Tilly, the project’s rate consultant, provided a summary for the need for the initial then second rate adjustment.

Baldessari said the earlier rate adjustment, which brought the average bill up to $65, was needed not only to aid with the fiscal issues the current plant was having, but to help secure possible grant money from the State Revolving Loan Fund program for the new treatment plant.

“Those rates were in place, and it came back that the State Revolving Loan Fund program did come up with a $850,000 grant in addition to the $700,000 Office of Community and Rural Affairs grant,” he said.

That left just $450,000 to be financed with a 20-year, 2% fixed-interest rate loan, Baldessari said.

“The financing package is out of this world for this project,” he said. “But, in order to run the sewer works, that grant wasn’t enough to keep the rates at $65. So, we needed an additional 16% increase to bring the average bill for 4,000 gallons up to $75.62.”

Baldessari said the new rate adjustment needed to be in place by the end of the month to meet the deadline to close on the loan in order to get the OCRA grant funds in October.

“I know there have been some significant rate adjustments here, but it’s been a long time since the rates were adjusted. So, a lot of this was just making up for lost time,” he said. “The rates should have been adjusted previously.”

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