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Utility Commission Explains Proposed 6.28 Percent Rate Increase

Commission holds public hearing and explains its proposed rate increase, which will cost the average ratepayer $30 extra a year.

Tuesday night, the Utility Commission explained the reasons behind its proposed 6.28 percent rate increase at a public hearing in Town Hall, saying the main driver for the increase is a cost outside its control.

The proposal increases consumption fees to customers 10 percent, from $3.50 per 748 gallons used to $3.85 per 748 gallons used, while keeping set costs flat, which is $180 per year for most households. The increase to the typical ratepayer would be $30.42 per year, with the yearly cost to the typical ratepayer increasing from $484.14 to $514.56, according to Utility Commission Chairman Peter Green.

The reason for the increase is the Waterford Utility Commission ran a $133,864 deficit last year, almost exclusively because of an increased cost for processing sewage, a cost the commission does not control. Green said this increase should prevent a deficit for next year.

“Our budgeting indicates that will put us in a break-even situation,” Green said.

Waterford's Representative Town Meeting will vote on the proposal at their October meeting.

Specifics

Waterford, along with New London and East Lyme, sends its sewage to New London’s sewer treatment plant. In the 2010-11 Fiscal Year, the New London sewage treatment plant charged Waterford $1.08 million for treatment, and in the 2011-12 Fiscal Year that number jumped 63.5 percent, or $684,598, according to Green.

One reason was the sewage treatment plant increased its costs, Green said. Also, Waterford sent more water into the plant, which was part from consumers and part because it was a wet year and rainwater can run into the system as well, according to Green.

The Utility Commission did raise its budgeted total in the 2011-12 Fiscal Year to $1.36 million for wastewater treatment, but that was still far below the $1.76 million actual cost, Green said. The Utility Commission did cut back on other services, but still wound up with a $133,864 deficit last fiscal year, Green said.

“That was the root cause of the overrun of our budget,” Green said.

This rate increase should ensure the commission runs a flat budget for at least this year, he said. The last time the utility commission asked for a rate increase was 2009, Green said.

The increase only affects the consumption side of the bill. Customers are also charged a set fee of $180 per year per estimated dwelling unit (EDU), with most homes being charged one EDU. That set fee is not changing.

The Waterford Utility Commission serves 7,014 customers, 6,812 of which are residential customers, Green said. There are 146 miles of sewer pipes controlled by the commission, and 3,600 manholes, he said. The commission has an overall budget of just below $4 million, he said.

At the hearing, a few members of the public showed, along with members of the press, elected officials and members of the Utility Commission.

Bernard J. Pisacich September 19, 2012 at 03:27 PM
It should be noted that NOT ONE member of the public ( other than elected personel of Town employee) attended the public meeting! BJP
Paul Petrone September 19, 2012 at 03:47 PM
That's not true. There was at least one person there, maybe two.
Foofaraw September 19, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Haha, 2 people, very funny. It dosen't matter usually as the rates would go up regardless of public input. I'm sure the residents of Waterford don't enjoy paying more. My point though, while the rates increase this year and then they sneak in a rise in the "set cost" next year claiming the consumption rates will stay the same. Sneaky. I am a septic resident though so it matters not to me. Enjoy the flushing!
GL September 19, 2012 at 05:45 PM
It is my experience when a public utlity states the reason(s) for any increase are do to circumtance beyond their control, they dismiss salary, benefits and staffing.Perhaps if employees either were not given automatic raises or asked to pay more more for benefits this increase would not be requested
Paul September 20, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Although I tend to agree with you. The system is based on a 2 tier billing system. Tier 1 is used for staffing/salaries. Tier 2 is based on consumption & the treatment costs of raw sewage has gone up. Tier 1 rate is not changing Tier 2 is. Most people want things run as a business & by the very nature an enterprise fund is supposed to be run like a business. The problem is the RTM gets put into the position that the town/rate payer needs to pay the bill. The RTM finds out after the fact. This needs to change as it is the RTM that appoints the utility commission. Right now the utility commission is asking the PRB to add a position that most will tell you they don't need but the utility commission will say they do. If the PRB approves the position than guess what? The RTM will act as if they were blind sided yet again and will have to raise Tier 1 rates next year to cover it. The RTM needs to appoint a liason to the commission or have monthly reports sent to them so they are aware of what they are doing. It amazes me that the body that whines & complains about how the utility commission is running is the same body that is supposed to over see it! Instead of complaining the RTM should do something proactive instead of reacting to the utility commissions in- effeciencies. But I guess it is just easier to ask the citizens to pay for it! The RTM , the BOF, the BOE, & the BOS have a republican majority! When are the D's & R's going get control of the costs.

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