Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

News

May 22, 2013

Water-sewer rate hike proposal raises ire

Selectmen object to town manager's water, sewer changes

A proposed 8 percent hike in the sewer rate, plus a 2.5 percent water rate increase, hit a bump in the road Monday night.

The Board of Selectmen challenged Town Manager Buzz Stapczynski’s proposal, with Chairman Alex Vispoli vowing in scolding remarks that he would vote against the measure.

Vispoli argued the town manager should have brought the proposed rate hikes to selectmen prior to Town Meeting’s approval of the fiscal 2014 operating budget earlier this month. The rate hikes are already built into the budget, he said.

“I don’t understand why we’re having this conversation after Town Meeting,” Vispoli told Stapczynski during this week’s Board of Selectmen meeting. “This should have happened last fall. I told you this last year. What is the plan? This is a replay of that conversation. ... I’m going to vote against both increases.”

Stapczynski attempted to defend himself, saying, “I think we have a plan. We were in the crush of Town Meeting. We had a $157 million budget. This is one component of that.”

Vispoli countered that Stapczynski was using that as an “excuse,” to which the town manager replied, several times, “we’ll do better” next year.

The discussion came during the first reading of the proposed rate increases. Selectmen, who also serve as the town’s water and sewer commission, will take up the matter again at their next meeting June 3.

Under the proposal, water rates would rise from $2.92 per 100 cubic feet (about 750 gallons) to $2.99. That would translate to an increase of about $8 for the average water customer who uses about 11,265 cubic feet per year. This year’s average bill of $324 would increase almost $332 under the town manager’s proposal.

Sewer users, meanwhile, would see the rate go up by 8 percent, meaning the typical bill would rise from about $356 to $385 a year, a jump of nearly $29.

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